Although the U.S. has only officially been a republic for 245 years (it will be 246 on July 4th, 2022), it already has an extensive list of national parks dedicated to preserving this country's history and beauty. But precisely how many national parks are there?
According to the National Park Foundation, there are 423 national park sites located in the U.S. These parks contain the country's most breathtaking places, including seashores, mountain peaks, desert canyons, and historical sites.
What are the most visited national parks in the U.S.?
One thing is for sure: the beauty covering the landscape of these 50 states is worth seeing. Check out 25 national parks that make the list of most visited national parks according to data from the National Park Service.
1. Blue Ridge Parkway
Expanding for 469 miles, the Blue Ridge Parkway is known for being one of the most pleasant drives through Virginia and North Carolina, making it no surprise that it makes the top of the list of most visited national parks.
2. The Great Smokey Mountains
According to National Geographic, the Great Smokey Mountains National Park was established in 1934 after logging had taken out nearly 80% of the forests. Today, the forests have regrown, bringing with them the "smokey" effect the mountains are known for when the vegetation and moisture create a thick fog over these breathtaking mountains that extend through the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee.
3. Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes woods for hiking, historical sites, and exhibits.
4. Gateway National Recreation Area
Located between Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Breezy Hook, New York, Gateway National Recreation Area offers beaches and historical sites.
5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead was the first national recreation area in the U.S. and spans over 1.5 million acres across Arizona and Nevada. Lake Mead is ideal for swimming, fishing, and boating since it contains two large lakes.
6. George Washington Memorial Parkway
Dedicated to the first president of the U.S.A., the George Washington Memorial Parkway provides a direct route from Mount Vernon (George Washington's historic home) to the nation's capital.
7. Natchez Trace Parkway
Traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway will take you through three states (Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee) in 444 miles of unspoiled, breathtaking, and tranquil views.
8. Lincoln Memorial
On May 30, 2022, the Lincoln Memorial celebrated 100 years of sitting (pun intended) in Washington D.C.
9. Gulf Islands National Seashore
Located in the states of Florida and Mississippi, the Gulf Islands National Seashore is the best national park for those seeking sandy white beaches on their historic camping trip.
10. Zion National Park
According to National Geographic, Zion Canyon (where the park gets its name) was named after the Old Testament nickname for the city of Jerusalem. Per the history of the Zion National Park, Mormon settlers who came upon the area in the 1860s were so overcome by the stunning landscape that no other name would do.
11. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Park
At the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Park, you can travel the historic waterway on the Potomac River that was used for transporting coal from Cumberland, Maryland to Washington D.C. for nearly 100 years, starting in 1828.
12. Yellowstone National Park
In 1882, Yellowstone became the first national park in the U.S. so that all could enjoy the splendid 2.2 million acres of land that includes geothermal areas unparallel to what you'll see in other parks, including hot springs and active geysers.
13. Grand Canyon National Park
14. Rocky Mountain National Park
The Colorado Rocky Mountain National Park is home to 300 miles of gorgeous hiking trails where you're likely to see natural wildlife.
15. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Located on the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area may be the best national park in the U.S. for discovering historic natural lands while hiking, camping, fishing, and enjoying the three swimming beaches.
16. Acadia National Park
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the park was founded in 1919 under the name Lafayette National Park and was renamed Acadia in 1929. Today, the park has a prolific amount of magnificent landscape and resources to learn about the region's cultural heritage.
17. Cape Cod National Seashore
If you're seeking one of the national parks in the U.S. that has an abundance of seashores but also think discovering the cranberry bogs, lighthouses, and historical landscapes of Massachusetts would be a worthwhile adventure, then Cape Cod National Seashore is the park for you.
18. Grand Teton National Park
According to National Geographic, the Grand Teton National Park was named after the Grand Teton mountains in Wyoming and was founded in 1929. The mountains are said to be so flawless it's as if they're a painting rather than part of nature.
19. World War II Memorial
Located in the District of Columbia, the World War II Memorial honors the 16 million armed forces members who risked their lives defending the U.S. in World War II.
20. Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Also located in the District of Columbia, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial lists the 58,318 Americans who lost their lives defending this country during the Vietnam War.
21. Yosemite National Park
The 1,200 square miles of Yosemite National Park, located in California, was discovered in 1864. The park is renowned for its beautiful waterfalls.
22. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Located in Georgia, the Chattahoochee River has provided people with food and powered mills for hundreds of years. Today, the river is drenched with history and provides tourists with the ideal location for recreational activities such as fishing or traveling down the river on a tube.
23. Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Have you ever wanted to camp on the seashore or explore a salt marsh? The Cape Hatteras National Seashore in Georgia allows you to do just that, and you may even see a sea turtle.
24. Indiana Dunes National Park
The Indiana Dunes National Park contains 15,000 acres of delightful landscape and 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan.
25. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area covers over 1.25 million acres starting at Lees Ferry, Arizona, to the Orange Cliffs of Utah. With natural wonders such as horseshoe bend and rainbow bridge, this is a bucket list "must-see."
If you’re ready to check out some of these incredible places, joining a tour is a great way to take in the sights. Greyline Las Vegas offers great travel packages to fit any adventure. Contact us for more information.