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The 10 Best National Parks

The National Park Service protects some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States — and each year, the parks see more than 280 million visitors. In a recent survey, readers at our parent company, TripAdvisor, chose their top 10 favorite national parks across the U.S. Encompassing mountains, sand dunes, waterfalls, craggy cliffs, canyons and volcanoes, these parks showcase the breathtaking range of America’s geography. Read on to see the 10 national parks TripAdvisor readers rated the nation’s best.

10. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia is distinctive for the jaw-dropping beauty of its shoreline and its extensive wildlife, and the historic carriage roads running through the park let visitors easily explore the beauty of this East Coast landmark. The granite majesty of Cadillac Mountain, the tallest on the eastern shore of the U.S., rises above the park and gives early birds a remarkable view of the sunrise. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, “The clear day made for a phenomenal view of Bar Harbor and its surroundings.”

9. Yosemite National Park, California

Known the world over for its diverse offering of awe-inspiring natural landscapes, especially its many waterfalls, Yosemite also gives visitors the chance to scale its impressive peaks. Travelers rave about the view that rewards those who brave the climb up Yosemite’s Half Dome, a major rock formation that affords famously striking views. As one TripAdvisor traveler said, “The view on the top is amazing, just amazing. It is a true wonder.”

8. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier, an active volcano that is surrounded by glaciers, rises majestically above the park, at times wearing a shroud of mist around its peak. Visitors can enjoy the many trails and scenic drives the park offers, and the brave can also attempt the climb to Mount Rainier’s summit. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, “The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Even if you just drive through the park and stop at the lookouts, you will be amazed at the views.”

7. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park boasts matchless mountain vistas and picturesque lakes, and more than 200 miles of hiking trails make it easy for travelers to take in the dramatic landscape that pairs the Teton Range with the lush greens and blues below. One TripAdvisor traveler said, “We hiked to Cascade Canyon on our trip to the Tetons … it was breathtaking.”

6. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

An amazing exhibit of the Mojave Desert’s geological features and animal and plant life, the Red Rock Canyon conservation area is home to a distinctive red sandstone landscape. The colorful formations can be enjoyed on a 13-mile scenic loop by car, or by hiking or biking this protected area. One TripAdvisor traveler said, “It’s so surreal — like looking at Mars! Highlight of my trip!”

5. Redwood National and State Parks, California

Climbing more than 350 feet into the sky, more than 110,000 acres of these immense coast redwoods are protected in this treasured group of parks. These gentle giants can live for more than 2,000 years, and are part of an ecosystem that includes a host of other fascinating flora and fauna. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, “Any time you have a chance to stand in a redwood grove and feel the peace and silence washing over you like a healing balm, you need to do it!”

4. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are inundated with amazing things to see and do, from exploring lush rain forest to experiencing two highly active volcanoes. The park’s breathtaking volcanic landscapes are reason enough for a visit, but the park offers myriad ways to experience the naturally beautiful area, such as biking or camping. One TripAdvisor traveler suggests, “Don’t forget to walk through the Thurston Lava Tube and to get a good view of the steam vents.”

3. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Rolling dunes of white sand as far as the eye can see make White Sands National Monument a truly unique site to experience. Travelers can drive or hike through the sands — or even sled down the hills of this seemingly endless “sea” of gypsum crystals. As one TripAdvisor traveler puts it, “What an incredible visual. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before! You could walk around for hours.”

2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

One of the first national parks in the U.S., it is home to the immense and striking Grand Canyon, one of the stunning natural wonders of the world. Whether you hike from rim to rim or simply snap some photos, travelers agree the Grand Canyon is a must-see that will leave you speechless. As one TripAdvisor traveler said, “It is just a jaw-dropping, stunning view — everywhere you look!”

1. Zion National Park, Utah

The stunning red monoliths and canyons of Zion National Park invite visitors to explore its beauty by camping, biking, touring by car, hiking and more. Adventurous travelers can embark on the exciting Angel’s Landing hike and the views make the daring climb well worth it. According to one TripAdvisor traveler, “It’s the best view in the entire park, and best hike I have ever done! Do not miss it!”

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