All 60 US National Parks Ranked

The idea of all 60 US National Parks ranked has been on my mind for a while or at least since I started visiting them frequently over the last decade or so. Rankings of course are all subjective and based on the voters or in this case, my experience and tastes. People will agree or disagree, some will call me a moron, scream and yell and some will simply add to their unending bucket list. But what myself and all those people have in common is we like lists even if we don’t admit it. We like rankings. People always want to know what’s best and what’s worst and debate it. That’s why “listicals” do so well and 60 is a manageable number. Here is my criteria for all 60 US National Parks ranked.

All 60 US National Parks ranked

Standing high above Canyonlands National Park staring at one of natures greatest creations

  1. I have been to the national park
  2. It’s based on my experience and thoughts from my visit
  3. Nothing else

Now here are all 60 US National Parks ranked backwards from 60 to 1. Tell me what you think of my list and what your top 5-10 would be. Enjoy!

60 Hot Springs

I found Hot Springs just really boring, uninteresting and I don’t understand why it’s a national park.

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park

59 Pinnacles

There isn’t really much to see in Pinnacles. The drive into the park is better than the park itself. Plus I found it annoying that the 2 sides of the park didn’t connect.

Rocks in Pinnacles National Park

Rocks in Pinnacles National Park

58 Cuyahoga Valley

I honestly didn’t know I was in a national park. I thought I was in a rural neighborhood or town. There’s a decent waterfall but that’s about it in terms of excitement for a visitor.

Waterfall at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Waterfall at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

57 Congaree

It’s literally a big swamp that you can walk a couple of miles loop. There’s a ton of mosquitos and it all kind of looks the same. I wasn’t impressed but plants and bugs aren’t really my thing.

Reflections in the swamps of Congaree National Park

Reflections in the swamps of Congaree National Park

56 Gateway Arch

This only became a national park in February and I’m not exactly sure why when other places like White Sands are designated as national monuments. The Gateway Arch is cool to see the first time but that’s really about it in my opinion.

St Louis and the Gateway Arch National Park

St Louis and the Gateway Arch National Park

55 Mammoth Cave

I like caves, don’t love them but wasn’t overly impressed by Mammoth. There are 3 other national parks with caves I liked more and wouldn’t go out of my way to return to Mammoth.

Inside Mammoth Cave National Park

Inside Mammoth Cave National Park

54 Biscayne

This is a weird park to me as it’s pretty much all water. It’s pretty of course and I get the biodiversity angle but I’d rather just travel around the keys. I’m more of a visual person than getting into scientific things.

Out of the water in Biscayne National Park

Out of the water in Biscayne National Park

53 Voyageurs

Much like Biscayne, it’s mostly water and it’s really pleasant to be there but not that exciting. I hear if you do a houseboat it’s better but I wouldn’t travel all the way to International Falls to go on a houseboat in a lake to drink some beers.

Entrance to Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota

Entrance to Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota

52 Wind Cave

Again, I like caves but wasn’t overly impressed by Wind Cave. If you’d never seen a cave before you’d probably be impressed and I hate to sound jaded but it wasn’t nearly as good as others I’ve seen. The park also features buffalo and other animals but the day I was there it was raining so I didn’t see much activity.

The Assembly Room inside Wind Cave National Park

The Assembly Room inside Wind Cave National Park

51 Guadalupe Mountains

This park was pretty of course but I found it relatively indistinguishable from some others. I didn’t see much that made it stand out to me. Although, it’s certainly a nice place to pass through on a road trip.

Desert scenery in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Desert scenery in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

50 American Samoa

This park is a pain to get to for obvious reasons like it’s in American Samoa! To be fair, I’ve been twice but only on the main island as the park is spread out over a few islands. This makes it even harder to get to see most of it and honestly, it is nice enough but nothing too impressive. If it were in Hawaii, it would just be another view or maybe a state park.

Viewpoint in the National Park of American Samoa

Viewpoint in the National Park of American Samoa

49 Shenandoah

Technically, Shenandoah was the first national park I went to when I was a young child but I don’t really remember it so I don’t count that visit. So when I went back, I thought it was a nice drive of course because it is but nothing overly impressive about it. I found it to be a poor mans Smoky Mountains but again an enjoyable and peaceful place to drive and I finally got to visit Monticello!

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello very close to Shenandoah National Park

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello very close to Shenandoah National Park

48 Sequoia

I think I’d have Sequoia higher if I hadn’t seen Redwood and Kings Canyon first on the same road trip. By the time I saw Sequoia I was kind of over the big trees. Seeing these giants the first few times is great but then it’s like seeing yet another elephant on safari. I know people love Sequoia and that’s fine. It is nice, I just prefer the other two.

Trees in Sequoia National Park

Trees in Sequoia National Park

47 Petrified Forest

I was at the Petrified Forest back in 2008 on a road trip from Business School and I remember we all collectively thought it was cool but we expected more. I hope to return soon to see if that was just us being young and immature or that’s still an accurate statement.

A different kind of forest in Petrified Forest National Park

A different kind of forest in Petrified Forest National Park

46 Saguaro

Saguaro is a cool place to drive around but after a while you’re like, I get it there’s a lot of Saguaro Cacti here. I love Arizona and may move there sooner rather than later and I’d make sure I had cacti in my yard but Saguaro would not be a top place I’d return to. Most highways kind of look like it!

Cacti in Saguaro National Park

Cacti in Saguaro National Park

45 Virgin Islands

I have been twice to this park on St. John and while I’m pretty clear about my distaste for the US Virgin Islands (based on multiple bad experiences), there’s no denying the beauty of the beaches in the national park. If you get a sunny day, there are few places with prettier beaches in the Caribbean.

Trunk Bay in Virgin Islands National Park

Trunk Bay in Virgin Islands National Park

44 Isle Royale

Right about here is where it gets tough to rank the parks because they’re all good. I really liked Isle Royale and of course it was my last of the 60 so it has a special place in my heart. It is really pretty but if we’re ranking there has to be something that sets it apart and there really wasn’t anything special. It was just really nice and pleasant.

My 60th US National Park was Isle Royale

My 60th US National Park was Isle Royale

43 Everglades

I love the Everglades. I love hopping on a fan boat and scooting through the swamps on top of alligators and cruising around. I love gators and you can see them everywhere down in the Glades. It’s a fun place to be and if it were prettier I’d have it ranked higher.

Everglades National park is unique

Everglades National park is unique

42 Mesa Verde

I really liked Mesa Verde and would totally return. It has great scenery, reminiscent of the Four Corners region. It’s laid out well and easy to visit. It’s not as dramatic as some other hence it’s lower ranking but it’s a nice place.

Scenic goodness in Mesa Verde National Park

Scenic goodness in Mesa Verde National Park

41 Kenai Fjords

I was here back in 2008 and I remember thinking it was really pretty but nothing overwhelming about it. It’s not Norway and would be my least favorite of the 8 great Alaskan parks but of course, it’s still really pretty and worth a visit.

Floating around Kenai Fjords National Park

Floating around Kenai Fjords National Park

40 Great Smoky Mountains

This is the single most visited national park in America and by a large margin. Mostly because of location and straddling two states, Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s pretty for sure but I was really turned off by the cheesy towns surrounding it like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. It also can’t hold a candle to the great parks in the west hence its lower ranking but still nice and worth a visit.

Typical view in Smoky Mountains National Park

Typical view in Smoky Mountains National Park

39 Hawaii Volcanoes

This park I expected more from. Of course it’s nice and interesting but it’s a lot of science type stuff instead of real volcano stuff. For my money, a helicopter tour over the volcano itself is much cooler and worth the money. I also happened to get lucky and catch it on a lava flow day. But separating the actual National park to flying over it are different things.

Lava flowing in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Lava flowing in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

38 Redwood

I loved driving through Redwood. Honestly, it’s one of the cooler drives anywhere in America. The park itself is intertwined with the state park and there are beautiful beaches that few know about along the way as you come down from Oregon. Redwood is classic and well worth a visit.

Love driving and walking through Redwood National Park

Love driving and walking through Redwood National Park

37 Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon has massive trees which are cool of course but the reason I have it ranked ahead of Redwood is it also has a gorgeous canyon with a killer drive down into it. Scenery is great and worth a half day of your time. Plus, if you’re choosing between this and Sequoia, devote more time to Kings Canyon as they are attached but I found Kings to be much more interesting.

Looking down into Kings Canyon National Park

Looking down into Kings Canyon National Park

36 Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is classic and a great park to visit. It is a nice place to be and there are some cool desert landscapes. It’s a nice break on a road trip from Arizona to California or a good day trip from Palm Springs. It’s not the best desert park but worth a visit.

Joshua Tree National Park scenes

Joshua Tree National Park scenes

35 Great Basin

I didn’t love Great Basin when I was there but in hindsight I appreciate it more and more. It’s a solid 5 hours from Las Vegas but worth a drive up. It has a good cave system that you can tour and some great vistas. It’s pretty representative of the area and nice change from the usual Nevada.

Views in Great Basin National Park in Nevada

Views in Great Basin National Park in Nevada

34 Grand Teton

I’ll actually be back in the Tetons in 2 weeks and looking forward to that visit but when I was there in 2011, I really liked it too. The mountains are the star obviously but to me it was more about location. I love Jackson Hole and of course it’s right next to Yellowstone as well. I’m playing golf there next trip so hopefully it’ll improve the ranking.

Reflections in Grand Teton National Park

Reflections in Grand Teton National Park

33 Great Sand Dunes

There’s no easy way to get here. It’s a solid 4 hours from Denver and if you do a day trip as I did, it’s a slog. It’s cool to see of course and walking on it is a lot of fun too. Get there early or late for the best light and least people and remember to bring a sand board!

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

32 Lassen Volcanic

I wasn’t expecting much from Lassen because I didn’t know anything about it. It’s by far the most unknown of California’s 9 national parks and tucked away in the northeast of the state about 50 miles from Redding. I got there at like 7am and basically had the park to myself for the entire morning. It was great and the park itself was very picturesque with great hikes.

Awesome frozen water colors below Mount Lassen in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Awesome frozen water colors below Mount Lassen in Lassen Volcanic National Park

31 Haleakala

If you play golf on Maui, you know that all putts break away from Haleakala! It’s so big and imposing on Maui that you can see it from everywhere on the island. Getting up there at sunrise is a right of passage for anyone visiting Maui for the first time. Maui is my favorite island in Hawaii and perhaps the world. Haleakala is gorgeous, worth the trip and is a quintessential Maui experience. Just bring a coat for sunrise!

The rim view atop Haleakala National Park

The rim view atop Haleakala National Park

30 Lake Clark

Lake Clark is the first place I saw bears up close, like really up close. They were 15 feet away and it was a real thrill. Lake Clark is not easy to get to. You need to fly in on a float charter with wheels and have a guide. Once you arrive it’s phenomenal. I saw so many bears I wasn’t even sure what to take photos of and what not to. Lake Clark is the place to see bears in the wild in Alaska.

15 feet away from a bear in Lake Clark National Park

15 feet away from a bear in Lake Clark National Park

29 Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Aside from having a really cool name, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a great park. It’s not that big, easily manageable and has great views from many different angles. Western Colorado is littered with beauty but this park is probably my favorite in that region because it’s simple yet stunning with good hikes and views.

The view inside Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The view inside Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

28 Channel Islands

I wanted to rank this higher but I realized I’ve only been to one of the Channel Islands and there are several. You’d need days to see them all and I hope to do that sometime. But what I did see was amazing hikes, killer views and a little slice of California that most locals don’t even see because it takes some effort to get there. I really liked the Channel Islands and that didn’t even include the hundreds of dolphins I saw on the ferry out and back!

One of the gorgeous beaches in Channel Islands National Park

One of the gorgeous beaches in Channel Islands National Park

27 Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay is the place to see the ice calving in America. It’s what you see on the ads, videos and on social media. It happens in Glacier Bay, Alaska. It’s the centerpiece of most Alaskan cruises and for good reason. It’s the best place to see glacial activity in the world outside of Perito Moreno in Argentina in my opinion. Glacier Bay can be done on a day trip as well if you’re visiting Alaska independently but it takes some planning ahead for logistics. What a great place.

Amazing glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park

Amazing glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park

26 Badlands

I was in the Badlands back in 2011 and remember loving it. I thought the landscapes were tremendous and like nothing I’d seen before. It’s a park that’s well set up for driving and hiking like many of the continental US parks. It’s a great park to visit and only an hour so from Rapid City, South Dakota and nearby to Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial that are must sees as well.

Badlands National Park is awesome

Badlands National Park is awesome

25 North Cascades

For me personally, I’ll remember this park for having to sleep in my car because I couldn’t find a place to stay where I arrived up there at midnight a few years ago. When I did get in at 5am the next morning I had the park all to myself and loved every second of it. The Cascades are gorgeous and there are some really stunning views. I didn’t know much about this park but really liked it.

Stunning scenery in North Cascades National Park

Stunning scenery in North Cascades National Park

24 Theodore Roosevelt

I literally knew nothing about this park except that it was in middle of nowhere western North Dakota. That’s no mans land but what I discovered was a great park with a lot to see and do. It was a mix of a lot of other places with trippy looking badlands and millions of prairie dogs, buffalo and other animals. There’s a 30 plus mile loop road that’s a must to see this park but don’t forget to get out and check out the views!

Amazing pink sky in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Amazing pink sky in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

23 Acadia

This park is special to me because I was able to bring my dog Hector as it’s very dog friendly and beautiful. I love the whole Bar Harbor area and Acadia is easily the best east coast park. Acadia makes a great weekend trip for anyone and is a place you can see yourself going back to again and again. My best advice is to drive it, take a boat tour to see from the water and then take a scenic flight to see it from the sky.

Hector enjoying the view atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Hector enjoying the view atop Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

22 Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef is the worst of the big 5 parks in Utah but it would be the best in just about any other state! Trust me that is a compliment and I loved Capitol Reef. It’s a bit of a pain to get to, about 2 hours drive from Moab but easily manageable when you arrive. It’ll be hot so bring water and sunscreen for the hikes and be sure to stop into the general store for some homemade pie and ice cream!

Offroading in amazing scenery in Capitol Reef National Park

Offroading in amazing scenery in Capitol Reef National Park

21 Kobuk Valley

I feel very fortunate to have actually visited Kobuk Valley. It’s by far the least visited park in America and I was told less than 100 people go a year. The numbers published include people who simply go to the visitor center to get the stamp. Getting to the park is a whole other story and involves chartering a float plane. That said, seeing the sand dunes above the Arctic Circle and landing in absolute silence in the Kobuk River was something I’ll never forget. What a great experience!

12 miles of sand dunes high above the Arctic Circle in Kobuk Valley National Park

12 miles of sand dunes high above the Arctic Circle in Kobuk Valley National Park

20 Rocky Mountain

As the name implies, it’s the Rocky Mountains and they are awesome. I had a bit of everything the day I went with a blizzard at 12,000 feet to the Continental Divide. But all in all I loved it and even though the weather was rough I could see how awesome the park itself was. I look forward to returning soon in better weather-hopefully!

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado

19 Mount Rainier

On a clear day you can see Mount Rainier from Seattle and it looks magnificent. Visit the park with its namesake and you’ll be standing under one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. I loved this park and would encourage everyone to check it out.

Gorgeous Mount Rainier National Park

Gorgeous Mount Rainier National Park

18 Carlsbad Caverns

The jewel of the American cave parks and in my opinion, aside from the Postojna Caves in Slovenia, the ATM Cave in Belize and the Underground River Cave in the Philippines, Carlsbad Caverns are the best in the world. It’s well worth a visit to this great national park.

Inside Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Inside Carlsbad Caverns National Park

17 Olympic

Olympic really surprised me because I wasn’t expecting much from my visit. It doesn’t really have one particular thing to see or do but it is all beautiful and has so much diversity of landscapes that you feel like you’re visiting more than one national park. From the beach to the rainforest, Olympic has a lot to offer.

The beauty of Olympic National Park

The beauty of Olympic National Park

16 Death Valley

Death Valley is the hottest and lowest point in America and a beautiful park to boot. It’s exactly 2 hours from Las Vegas just across the border in California and one of my favorite parks to visit. I love the desert and Death Valley is exactly that-desert! Great landscapes, cool hikes and extreme heat. Bring water!

Solid view over Death Valley National Park

Solid view over Death Valley National Park

15 Big Bend

Big Bend is one of the least visited parks and I think the least visited in the continental US. It’s a pain in the butt to get to. It’s about 4-5 hours from El Paso and Midland, the two closest airports and aside from the famous Prada Marfa art installation about 2 hours away, there isn’t much to see along the way. It takes effort and desire to get to Big Bend but if you make it you’ll be happy you did. It straddles the Mexican border and it really hot. There’s great views and hikes and the park is massive. I drove at least 100 miles in the park itself and that wasn’t even a loop. Make sure to hike to see the Balanced Rocks, very cool stuff.

Balanced Rock in Big Bend National Park in West Texas

Balanced Rock in Big Bend National Park in West Texas

14 Katmai

You know those epic photos and videos of bears catching the salmon jumping out of the water on a small waterfall. That happens here at Katmai National Park. This is why you come to Katmai and you won’t be disappointed. You fly in from King Salmon, Alaska and stay at Brooks Camp and you watch the bears in their shining moments of glory as they easily catch salmon at record pace! It’s one of the coolest things you’ll see at any national park and you’ll be standing about 2o feet away on a great viewing platform.

Bears at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park looking for salmon

Bears at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park looking for salmon

13 Yellowstone

I will be back in Yellowstone in a few weeks and reserve the right to rank it higher but my only previous visit was back in 2011 and it was a drive through. So I stopped and saw Old Faithful blow and did the waterfall hike and a few others along the way but was only there about 4-5 hours although I did love the high altitude drive up to Montana. That said, I saw the beauty and it’s easy to see why the park is so popular and of course I saw 100,000 tourists but I want to see more and can’t wait to do so. This was also the first park to be designated as a National Park in America.

Gorgeous Yellowstone National Park

Gorgeous Yellowstone National Park

12 Glacier

Glacier is a gem and I only saw a small portion if it. I was there about 2 months ago and drove as much as I could but sadly snowfall at altitude in early June made the roads closed at higher altitudes so I was unable to see some of the iconic views. But I saw enough to convince me it deserved a ranking this high. It’s pristine nature at it’s finest and all I want to do is go back to this great park of Montana along with neighboring Whitefish and Kalispell.

Perfect nature scenery in Glacier National Park in Montana

Perfect nature scenery in Glacier National Park in Montana

11 Denali

I was in Denali a week ago and what a great place. Denali could’ve easily been #1 on this list. In fact, any of the top 20 really could’ve been. It depends on your taste and experience but Denali really has it all. Mount Denali (formerly McKinley), the tallest mountain in North America, is truly breathtaking. The 92 mile road into the park is gorgeous and the animals and views along the way will have you wanting more Denali in your life. I loved every second of my trip to Denali.

Mount Denali is North America's tallest mountain inside Denali National Park

Mount Denali is North America’s tallest mountain inside Denali National Park

10 Dry Tortugas

This being this high may surprise some but I absolutely loved the Dry Tortugas. I will say I think you must fly because seeing it from the air really adds to the experience. The ferry I am sure is fine but it doesn’t really add anything and just takes a long time. But once on island, you’ll feel like you’re in another world and time and to me that’s exactly what you want in a national park that is more like a historic monument stuck in time. The walk around the island on the seawall is a can’t miss experience. Truly awesome place!

Flying into Dry Tortugas National Park

Flying into Dry Tortugas National Park

9 Bryce Canyon

Again, this could easily be #1 and probably is on many peoples lists. It’s one of four parks in Utah I have in the top 10. The bright orange hoodoos are a sight to behold. Hiking down around the canyon is memorable and I can’t say enough about this amazing park. It’s small and manageable and easily visitable as a day trip from Las Vegas but it’s perfect to do for a few days along with Zion nearby.

Unbelievable scenery at Bryce Canyon National Park

Unbelievable scenery at Bryce Canyon National Park

8 Gates of the Arctic

One of the great sights in America is flying on a float plane around the Brooks Range that makes up Gates of the Arctic. Honestly, mountains and nature doesn’t get much more beautiful than this little visited gem above the Arctic Circle. It’s nature the way God intended it to be and should be on everyones extended list!

The stunning aerial view of Gates of the Arctic National Park

The stunning aerial view of Gates of the Arctic National Park

7 Zion

Again, this could easily be tops on the list. I love everything about Zion. It has amazing hikes like Angels Landing and the Narrows and views go on forever. It’s easy to get around and it’s a very accessible park. You can spend days in Zion and never get bored. I can’t wait for my next visit, it never gets old.

Looking out over Zion National Park

Looking out over Zion National Park

6 Grand Canyon

My first national park back in 2002 and I’ve been back 7-8 other times. The Grand Canyon is as good as anything in nature anywhere in the world. It sounds almost cliche to say how beautiful it is but it is just that. Whether you view from the north or south rim, hike down into the canyon or take a helicopter into or over it, you can’t go wrong. The Grand Canyon is one of the worlds jewels of nature and every time I see it, it takes my breath away.

South rim in Grand Canyon National Park

South rim in Grand Canyon National Park

5 Crater Lake

I really struggled ranking the top 10 and the top 5 was even harder because they’re all so good. But seeing Crater Lake on a perfect sunny day was one of the highlights of my travel life. I may even rank it ahead of the Grand Canyon for a wonder of nature. It’s just sheer perfection in Southern Oregon. The only reason I don’t have it higher is because it’s the lake and the rest of the park is just trees more or less but man is Crater Lake stunning. Must see for anyone and right at the top for me.

The impeccable Crater Lake high atop Crater Lake National Park

The impeccable Crater Lake high atop Crater Lake National Park

4 Wrangell-St. Elias

This is the largest national park in America. It’s almost twice the size of Denali and it’s bigger than the country of Switzerland. I was just recently there with my Godson and hiked the root glacier in Kennecott surrounded by the Wrangell Mountains with the St. Elias’s in the distance. It was perfect. The drive in was perfect, the towns, the rivers, the scenery-they were all perfect. I can’t say enough about how great a park this was.

Gorgeous nature in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Gorgeous nature in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

3 Arches

One of the best known parks for good reason. Plus it’s literally right in Moab, Utah-one of my favorite places in all of America. Arches is the quintessential national park. You’re floored by just about everything you see and the sunset hike to the Delicate Arch is priceless. Plus, there’s so many other amazing places to see, hikes to do and just iconic vistas. What else can I say, Arches rocks!

Delicate Arch at sunset in Moab, Utah inside Arches National Park

Delicate Arch at sunset in Moab, Utah inside Arches National Park

2 Canyonlands

To me, Canyonlands is like a modern day Grand Canyon. It’s sleeker, it’s more succinct and has varied viewpoints and hikes. Canyonlands is often overshadowed by nearby Arches which is a little more photogenic but Canyonlands for me is just plain awesome. I urge everyone to visit both sides including the Needles area about 90 minutes south of Moab for a totally different perspective. I stand in Canyonlands and I just stare at nature at its finest. What a place!

View from Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, All 60 US National Parks Ranked

View from Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park

1 Yosemite

Yosemite is the epitome of a national park. It has it all. It is perfect. It’s a little crowded but that’s because it’s so brilliant. Yosemite is big, it has great and iconic hikes like Half Dome. It has amazing waterfalls and trees and vistas. The view at sunset from Tunnel View to me is the single most iconic and beautiful view in America when half dome turns orange at the top. I urge people to see both sides of the park. I entered from the Nevada side and exited in California driving the whole park. I only had half a day in Yosemite and didn’t come close to doing everything. However, what I saw in that time was enough to convince me there is no park greater, with more to offer and with more beautiful views than the great Yosemite National Park. It doesn’t get any better in America.

Half Dome from Tunnel View at sunset in Yosemite National Park, All 60 US National Parks Ranked

Half Dome from Tunnel View at sunset in Yosemite National Park

Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’m from Utah and thrilled to see the Utah parks do so well on your list. I have been to all but Capitol Reef and think Zion is my favorite.

  2. Great list! I miss your 30 best lists. I agree on Yosemite although I’ve only been to 16 or so of the parks. This has inspired me to see more. Thanks again!

  3. I haven’t been to many but Zion was incredible.

  4. Yellowstone for me but I’ve only been to 5-6 of them. The Dry Tortugas looks amazing. I first heard about it from your post a while ago and I really want to go there. I live in Florida so it’s not that far for me.

  5. Miriam Arroyo says:

    Great list Lee! Yosemite is truly amazing and is well deserved of the #1 spot on your list. I\’ve visited the park in the spring, summer and winter and it\’s a different landscape view each season.
    It\’s always hard to leave such a majestic place. Thanks for sharing your experiences and inspiring us to travel more!

  6. Wow. Great visual report to read and look at. Thanks for taking all the time to do this. I think it’s one of your best. Good job.

  7. Yosemite is the best I agree! Now I have a great guide to go off visiting the others!

  8. Bryce and Zion

  9. I’ve been to 56 of the 60 so far and our lists would probably be very similar if I made one. I suspect I would downgrade many of the most crowded parks. Yosemite and Acadia, to me, have been loved to death. I struggled to enjoy them because I just never felt like I was “getting away.”

    Having said that, I would suggest to you to visit Yellowstone in mid-May or mid-September. You’ll miss 99% of the crowds and see just how incredible the place is. I’ve had that privilege and it would absolutely blow your mind.

    • Yes the crowds at certain parks can be a pain but the way I look at it tourists only go to good places so there’s a reason there’s a crowd. I agree shoulder season is best but I’m excited to be back in Yellowstone in 2 weeks! Thanks for the great comment and congrats on 56, which are you missing?

  10. Congratulations on another awesome achievement! What’s next?

  11. Yosemite for sure is #1

  12. The National parks are the best thing to visit in America. I’d love to see them all but I’ll settle for living in the southwest where I can drive to several different parks in a day. I would love to do an Alaska trip sometime. Great post.

  13. Glad to see you have Death Valley ranked relatively high at #16. I’ve been twice and feel it is such an underrated National Park given that a lot of people generally only think of the Grand Canyon as a potential day trip when they visit Las Vegas. It’s the only place I’ve been to where I’ve literally felt like I was on another planet! Since you’ve visited every country, Lee, is there anywhere else in the world comparable to Death Valley in your opinion?

  14. Really enjoyed reading this, Lee.
    I’m working on visiting them all and this weekend will be going to Channel Islands, my 44th. You mention visiting only one the islands there- which one?
    I enjoyed your list and while I haven’t visited all, I would put Gateway Arch, which I just visited last month, at number 60. It actually makes me angry this was made a national park instead of a national memorial or monument. The Arch and museum are definitely worth seeing, but it is, I believe, the smallest national park by a large margin, and simply doesn’t belong in a class that includes Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, etc.
    I don’t know if I could rank the top in order as you do, but I generally agree with your top 20 and fortunately, living in Las Vegas allows me to visit many of them easily.

  15. Wondering what other parks/nature destinations abroad are on par with the top 10 of this list (Soasusvlei, Banff, Patagonia?) Maybe time for a new list!

    • That’s a great question and yes there are so many but Banff and Jasper are right there among several other Canadian parks. That would be a great post on other great national parks around the world.

  16. Fantastic list! I’ve only been to about half, so I still have a ways to go. Glacier is my favorite by far. Definitely go back during late summer. Death Valley, Dry Tortugas, Grand Canyon, Denali, and Everglades rank up there for me as well.

  17. Richard Deneault says:

    Love it Lee! Not an easy thing to do but I particularly like that you laid out the rankings were based on your own experience and nothing else! I always love your travel for its integrity and authenticity. Thank you! I’m also sort of sad to see that having been to half the parks myself, most of the ones I have yet to see are in your bottom half! I still look forward to visiting the remaining!!

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