Top 15 US National Parks to Visit in Summer

In summers, the northern hemisphere is plentiful and lush; with thriving wildlife, verdant foliage, starry nights, and pleasant temperature for recreation whether on water, in the steep heart of river valleys, or on the rolling slopes of rugged mountain peaks and frosty glaciers.

Camping is an all-time summer favorite, joined with the spectacular sceneries, by the virtue of hiking trails across the parks, fishing in secluded creeks, or the sabulous lake shores with all the mountain-fringed beauty of a glacial lake or the vast marine coasts.

For landscape photographers, or those seeking the next destination to satisfy your outdoorsy taste, we have sieved through America’s 62 National parks and cherry-picked the top 15 reserves; including the must-see natural attractions, camping tips, trail accessibility, and much more.

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Visiting the American landscapes could not be complete without walking through the deep gorges of the Grand Canyon- titled one of the seven natural world’s wonders. Known for its outstanding beauty, geologists claim that these barren chasms are one of the world’s finest illustration arid-landscape, portraying earth’s history within the layered towering walls.

In the vicinity of the Southern Rim trails, the Grand Canyon Village houses facilitated camping throughout the year at the comfort of Trailer Village, while backcountry campsites are designated, overlooking several panoramic viewpoints.

A number of famous trails run through the canyons and over the bold peaks, although South Kaibab Trail is the park’s no.1 and ranked as one of the most scenic trails worldwide.

2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Speaking of the world’s wonders, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park harbors the world’s largest active volcano, dominating one of the most spectacular landscapes- where the Caribbean blues contrast with the lush verdant forests, rising to Mauna Loa volcanic peaks.

For reaching the Smokin summits of these colossal volcanoes, take a ride at the scenic and national geography recommended road at the Crater Rim Drive, or hop in your trekking boots for hiking and discover these breathtaking landscapes on foot.

Ha’akulamanu at the steaming sulfur bank, Kīlauea Iki- known as the most popular route- and Puʻu PuaʻI Overlook, and Keanakākoʻi Crater Trail feature the best of hikes- crossing over a combination of lava tubes, caves and moon-like craters mingled with lush rainforests.

While standing as a popular destination to marvel at the incredible forces of nature, the park boasts a rich cultural heritage, with the first Hawaiian’s memorial at Pu‘u Loa Petroglyphs, that recorded the regions’ essential canoe trips for the generations to come.

To stay, visit the hotel Volcano House, with a robust  hospitality and cuisine, or camp at the park’s many outback tent sites- with a small additional fee.

3. Denali National Park and Preserve

Denali National Park and Preserve

Alaska’s most scenic national park is a summer destination when the frigid months have passed and the foothills of North America’s tallest mountains, the Denali Ranges, are laden with thriving boreal vegetation. Deep fjords and ice sculpted valleys filled with the bluest of glacial rivers, tranquil alpine lakes, highland tundras with their bold barren beauty, and richly diverse wildlife- rambling and hunting freely in the absence of the unforgiving winters.

Naming the road leading to the charming hamlet, Talkeetna Spur Road bids the best driving-panorama- joined with myriads of hiking trails that unveil the unsuspecting beauty of the Alaskan landscape; including the Savage River Loop Trail lined with wildflower beds and biodiverse wildlife, Triple Lakes Trail for highland lake beauty and backcountry campsites, and Mount Margaret Summit- to gaze at the characteristic vistas of the rugged Alaskan summits.

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

The hoodoo country of Bryce Canyon National Park is titled as one of the world’s most beautiful reserves, luring the visitors with its crimson charm year-round. With over a dozen hiking trails, most of the region is accessible on foot; at the strolling spans of Queen’s Garden Trail, the Bristlecone Loop with the world’s most ancient terrestrial beings, Bristlecone Pines or the Wall Street Hike squeezing through a deep and narrow red-rocked ravine.

Marked over the hiking trails, several milestones form the most scenic vantage points, such as the sunset viewpoint at the Inspirational Point, and the views of the rising sun at Bryce Point and the Rainbow Point overlooking the colorful layers of hoodoo erosion.

Several backcountry campsites sit at the close proximity of these bewildering vantage points, while Pines Campground and Ruby’s Inn RV Park present RV facilitated camping.

Apart from the picturesque rock spirals over the barren land, the reserve’s nights bid their own special beauty, dotted with innumerable twinkling stars over the horizons of the park’s Dark Sky Reserve.

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Four seasonal blooms and lush forests, myriads of streams and rivers trembling down scenic cascades, and vistas of blue-hued Appalachian Ranges around the Clingman Dome- verdant slopes with much space to stroll for the native wildlife- Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a true example of nature prosperity.

For its innumerable water bodies to enjoy, rafting, fishing, or smooth canoeing are the recreational highlights of the summer, together with hiking trails that lead to the uncontaminated natural landscapes that alter in splendor as the season changes. Over ten facilitated campsites provide comfortable wilderness camping; however, the historic structure of Cataloochee Valley yet marks the most scenic roofed accommodations.

If not a fan of walking, drive your way through the Foothills Parkway, boasting over 115 kilometers of the scenic drive, covering most, if not all, of the park’s spectacular vantage points.

6. Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Housing the largest trees across the globe, Sequoia National Park is a must-visit destination, nestled on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The giant trees cover the valleys that ascend to alpine meadows and lastly, to the rugged mountain peaks- with mesmerizing vistas over the park’s sweeping landscape, Kaweah Valley and Crescent Meadow.

Whether joining the candle tour at the dark depths of Crystal Cave, or the gallant heights of Moro Rock Trail or strolling around the giant trees at the virgin woodlands- including the general or the president- there is no lack of natural or recreational marvels here.

Famed for its giant tunnels, carved out of a single tree over the road, the scenic drives access several facilitated campsites at the Lodgepole, Dorst Creek, and many other notable Campgrounds along the way.

7. Monument Valley Tribal National Park

Monument Valley Tribal National Park

The landscape of Monument Valley reminds the aridly harsh and isolated terrains in the 20th century western movies; mostly because many of these iconic movies have been filmed in this park- showcasing the sandstone towering rocks, and valleys covered in sparse heath shrubbery.

Named as the most photographed valley in the US, the outlandish beauty of this destination has long lured many spectators. The monument valley is an ancient home to Navajo tribes, dotted with heritage vestiges and cultural attractions in and around the handful of indigenous villages.

Driving through the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, covers most of the notable natural attractions, while walking and cycling trails pave the way to the valley’s tucked away attractions such as the famous rocks of the wildcat trail, or the magic of sunrise looking even more vibrant.

Monument Valley View offers a few facilitated camping, while backcountry campsites are found in abundance along the hiking trails.

8. Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park captures the charming essence of Atlantic America- embracing sandy coves sided with thunder wave caves, carriage pathways for paddling and horseback riders, and rugged creeks for an adrenaline-rushing kayaking experience.

Swimming, fishing, and hiking to the hidden beach coves for an off-grid camping experience are the park’s coastal specials; highlighting the Sommes Sound and its outstanding ice-carved island and fjord.

At a short distance from the charismatic marine attractions, Cadillac ranges and the verdant foothills conceal several hiking trails, housing Maine’s most famous rock, known as the Bubble Rock.

9. Muir Woods National Park

Muir Woods National Park

The fabled Redwood forests of America sit within the Muir Woods National Park- the living and red-wooded gems of Sierra Nevada. Scenic drives crossing amid the logs, wooden or asphalted trail veining the Mill Valley’s virgin forests, and tree domed tunnels providing unparalleled sceneries.

Although for an adventuresome hike, visit Mount Tamalpais State Park for steep climbs, unpaved trails, and nature, dominating the man-made routes with its untamed beauty.

Muir Woods nature reserve implies restrictions on wandering off the path and bringing pets, to conserve the park’s sensitive ecosystem-along with limited cycling and camping to preserve the forest’s natural heritage. The park is a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and outdoorsy activities are endless.

10. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The best time to visit the northern terrains of Alaska is summer; when the idyllic trails of this dramatic landscape are laden with wildflower beds and the arctic plants are at their peak bloom. To protect the life within the Alaskan arctic circle, these terrains are sheltered within America’s largest wildlife sanctuary, and at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

highlights include; scenic coastal marshes with polar bears, roaming moose, varieties of south-migrating birds, the barren highland habitats and verdant pasture with countless caribous and all the unique wildlife that dwells from the southern coasts of Atlantic to the bold heights of Brooks Range- illustrating the spectacular nature of northernmost point of the rocky mountains.

known as the land of the midnight sun, from the beginning of spring to mid-summer, Alaska’s alpine beauty reaches its most verdant form; when wildlife sighting, days-long trekking, wilderness camping, and fishing are the popular recreation.

11. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

An epicenter of chaste natural landscapes, agricultural heritage, and history, Cuyahoga Valley National Park protects the shores of the Cuyahoga River. Lush forests, innumerable cascading waterfalls, arched hiking trails, and breathtaking ledges characterize the park’s charisma.

Short and long hiking trails run along with the most scenic attractions, such as the Buttermilk and Blue Hen Falls, and Ledges viewpoint. Erie Canal Towpath Trail is named as the most scenic towpath watercourse in the region, sided by a delightful footpath.

Located outside Cleveland and Akron, the valley lies at a short-distance get away from the bustling traffic, with ranch accommodations, RV equipped campsite at Crooked creek, and many more.

12. Wrangell-St Elias National Park

Wrangell-St Elias National Park

America’s largest national park protects the wilderness around the loftiest peak of North America, Mont St. Elias. From the tall peaks to crystalline glaciers, volcanic tundras with their moon-like beauty, to sparkling alpine lakes, encircled by sparse boreal forests and grasslands- the park boasts the quintessential allure of the mystic Alaskan terrain.

Besides archaic volcanoes, Glaciers are the tool of nature’s architect, carving deep ice fjords, zigzagging rivers and streams, ice-seated bays, and glittering slit residue on the extremities- that represents the peculiar blue-hued charm to the highland streams and lakes.

Hiking along the sparsely vegetated meadows offers many opportunities to spot the native wildlife, joined with the longest days amid the American summers. McCarthy Creek Trail with luxury hotels and mid-range lodges, or Trail to End of Root Glacier facilitated with backcountry camping at the bottom of glacier- roofed accommodations, RV facilitated, and basic campsites are found along the reserve’s panoramic routes.

The entire region is marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; as an ancient home to Kluane Nations, their sacred burial grounds, and time-respected legacies.

13. Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park

Summer and swimming are an inseparable pair- alongside the unmatched beauty of earth’s natural heritage and geological wonders. Indiana Dunes National Park protects the ancient sand dunes of Indiana, and kilometers of white sand cover its 9 beaches; welcoming thousands of visitors each year for unlimited sun and sand activities.

Dune Succession Trail offers many vantage points over the rolling golden dunes, dotted with prickly cacti and the azure vistas of southern Michigan Lake shores. Taking a dip in the crystalline lake, walking around the inland dune of the state park, enjoying the sunset at the pavilion and wooden broad walk of the west banks, angling, or cycling over Calumet Bike Path- recreation is endless in this reserve.

Some of Indiana’s most luxurious waterfront hotels are located here, offering a luxurious comfort around the sparkling shores, whereas backcountry campsites host the visitors with natural luxury.

14. Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Noted as an outdoorsy haven, Mount Rainier National Park is the summer practice grounds of Everest or Alp climbers. Dominating the thriving nature of north Seattle, glacier mountain peaks, lush valleys, and spans of wildflowers in all colors brooding over the mountain slopes and alpine lakeshore the park is a renowned destination among landscape photographers, mountaineers, and outdoorsy families.

Embracing the sheer vistas of Cascade Ranges, the reserve is famed as one of the striking locations across the country; featuring the wildflower country around the Snow Lake with its scenic campground, Tolmie Peak Hike with panoramic backcountry campsites, a densely verdant hike of Spray Falls and best of all Panorama Point routes with the endless horizons- with endless camping and hiking options.

15. Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

A land riddled with silver-lined waterfalls and verdant ravines, Shenandoah National Park is home to ancient indigenous tribes, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the captive beauty of Shenandoah Valley. Bears, migratory birds, and fish-filled creeks for anglers mark the region’s major wildlife attractions.

Ranked as a world-class trekking route, Appalachian Trail leads to several fantastic vantage points over the ridge ranges. Lined along the trail, Skyline Drive offers these mesmerizing vistas at the comfort of your car. While offering a number of facilitated campsites and basic tent pitches, most of the camping areas require a permit beforehand.

In conclusion, here are two other world-famous national parks in the united states, to visit during your outdoorsy adventures this summer;

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument protects a vast area of the planet around Hawaii- earning the title of the world’s largest national park. Known as sacred grounds to the Hawaiian tribes, the reserve guards the coral kingdom and all its peculiar wildlife, sand-carved dunes, scenic shores, and even coastal forests and sheer cliff-sides.

Hot springs are traditionally considered a winter attraction, although Hot Spring National Park bids more than scalding pools- for a summer visit. Besides the therapeutic spas and heritage bathhouses in the city of Hot Springs, the park is a masterpiece of interesting thermal sediments and creeks, adorned with old-growth forests and lush vegetation.

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