National Parks to Explore in 2023 – National Parks Tour Tips
Spring is around the corner, which means the best National Parks in the USA will be at the forefront of everyone’s warm-weather travel plans. Read on to learn more about the best National Parks for wildlife and summer vacation ideas, and may you have the National Parks road trip of a lifetime!
We researched to find out which aspects of the National Parks folks like the most (think waterfalls, epic scenic drives, best hikes in the U.S., awesome camping opportunities, and more). Then we went through the list of 63 American National Parks to find the most beautiful National Parks in the U.S. which included those popular aspects.
National Parks with Waterfalls
Chasing waterfalls is a favorite summer activity, and we can see why! These beauties offer a picturesque setting and a way to cool off. Included below are our three favorite National Parks with Waterfalls:
Yosemite National Park: Horsetail Fall. Falling 2,030 feet down the eastern side of El Capitan, Horsetail Fall is a seasonal waterfall that flows as two side-by-side streams during the winter and spring months. If conditions are perfect, the sun sets in just the right position to light up the falls, making them appear as if they are on fire.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Ramsey Cascades. The tallest waterfall in the National Park and one of the most picturesque, Ramsey Cascades drops water 100 feet over numerous rock outcroppings, finally collecting in a small pool where, if you look closely, numerous well-camouflaged salamanders can be found.
Olympic National Park: Sol Duc Falls. Sol Duc Falls is a paradise of old-growth trees amid lush rainforest landscapes, incredible waterfalls, and deep pools. Nearby, one can also find alpine lakes, snowcapped peaks, and abundant wildlife. Olympic National Park, the home of Sol Duc Falls, is a pristine place to find countless trails and attractions, fantastic views, and peaceful places to camp.
National Parks with Lakes
Cool, refreshing, and crystal clear lakes provide a welcome joy after a day of hiking, so we gathered our three favorite National Parks that happen to feature stunning inland lakes:
Rocky Mountain National Park: Sprague Lake. Sprague Lake is a well-known attraction at Rocky Mountain National Park. Visitors hike just a brief mile from a parking lot to reach the lake, at which point outstanding views of the lake and a rising mountain range behind it greet them. If visitors are truly lucky, they may glimpse moose pausing to feed upon vegetation in the lake’s shallow waters.
Yellowstone National Park: Yellowstone Lake. Heralded as the “Flagship of the National Parks,” Yellowstone National Park is one of the most visited parks and the first ever created. The park offers visitors many features and points of interest, like the famous Yellowstone Lake, illustrated here. The magnificent lake covers 136 square miles and offers 110 miles of shoreline.
Isle Royale National Park: Lake Superior. Nestled in the northern waters of pristine Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park offers peace, quiet, and freedom from the hustle and bustle of urban civilization. Visitors explore 206 square miles of rugged forests, sloping hills, beaches, inlets, and hiking trails. Established as a National Park in 1940, the island is any adventurer’s ideal destination.
Coastal National Parks
A few National Parks are located on the coast, providing a unique experience and inviting visitors to enjoy the unique climates and topographies available in a coastal setting. Our three favorite coastal National Parks are:
Katmai National Park. Katmai National Park offers over 4 million acres of protected lands near the base of the Alaska Peninsula, just across from Kodiak Island. The park is most notable for its healthy population of brown bears, and the region acts as a nature preserve for that very reason. This means that hunting is banned on most of the park’s lands.
Acadia National Park. The scenic views from the rocky headlands of Acadia National Park are said to be unparalleled, and all who travel there have taken time from their busy lives to look out over the sweeping expanses, the bright blue oceans, the rocky cliffs, the islands, inlets, and to explore the hiking trails. In the early-1900s, Harvard president Charles W. Eliot and a few others succeeded in obtaining enough private land donations to establish Acadia, creating for eternity what we now know as one of the most beautiful places in America.
Dry Tortugas National Park. Dry Tortugas National Park is 70 miles west of Key West and can only be reached by boat or seaplane. The park is home to Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century coastal fort built with more than sixteen million bricks, and the fort holds a record as the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere! The park covers 64,700 acres, yet while the park does include seven islands, most of the park comprises the protected waters surrounding the islands.
Least Visited National Parks
As the National Parks have grown in popularity, some truly adventurous souls seek their travel fortunes in the least visited National Parks. According to National Park Service visitation data, the least visited National Park is:
Gates of the Arctic National Park. Gates of the Arctic National Park has stayed unchanged for thousands of years except for the forces of nature. This National Park comprises more than eight million acres of land, making it the second-largest national park in the country. The vast landscape has no roads or trails and few marked locations on topographical maps. True explorers venture into this endless wilderness by bush plane to experience lands untouched by man.
Most Visited National Parks in the U.S.
The most visited National Parks are visited regularly for a reason. They are often easily accessible, have well-developed facilities and infrastructure, and are complete with accommodations for seniors, persons with disabilities, and children. The most-visited National Park on the roster is:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This park offers some of the best vistas and nature experiences in the United States. The park features hundreds of square miles of protected lands and a wilderness sanctuary where birds and beasts live freely and unhampered.
U.S National Parks Map
The above sections only scratch the surface of the countless things to see and do in the National Parks. If you’re planning a National Park road trip to see as many parks as possible, we recommend our U.S. National Parks Map!
Currently 30% off while supplies last, mapping out your National Park adventures has never been easier (or more stylish) with Anderson Design Group’s deluxe National Park Sticker Map Poster. The poster is 30” wide by 21” tall and includes a set of 72 emblem stickers (all 61 National Parks, plus 11 bonus wildlife stickers.) The map of the USA is printed on heavy-duty, double-laminated matte-finished paper and is ready to be displayed on your wall. It shows you where each of the National Parks are located and offers facts and info useful for planning trips. Use this sticker poster to decorate with our other National Parks art.
Use the map to commemorate each of your National Park adventures. Or use this beautiful laminated poster and sticker set as a bucket list of National Parks you plan to visit. This memory-making sticker map of American National Parks will surely be a focal point and a conversation piece wherever you hang it! Have fun on your National Park road trip with this convenient map!
Best National Parks Guide Book
The best time to visit the National Parks is right around the corner, and the best way to tour the parks while learning facts about National Parks is with ADG’s National Park Adventure Guide Book, the NEW 63-Park Edition.
Without a doubt, this best-seller is one of our most popular items! Our newly-updated 63-Park 2022 edition of the National Park Adventure Guide is better than ever. This super fun and USEFUL guide is a must-have for any trip to the National Parks. The updated version includes information on recently-added parks, including New River Gorge, White Sands, Indiana Dunes, and Gateway Arch.
The guide features information about each park, tips on things to do in the parks, space for note-taking, fun facts about each park, and of course, a plethora of Anderson Design Group vintage National Park art! The guide also has stickers for each park, so you can place a sticker on the insert of a park every time you visit a new park!
Have a Fun (and SAFE) National Park Week!
Whether you’re taking a week or a month to explore America’s Best Idea, we hope you have an absolute blast. Stay safe out there, have fun, and if you need something special to remember your National Park adventure, our 63 Illustrated American National Parks Collection has over 300 original illustrations, styled after vintage poster art, that depict the wonder and joy of these beautiful natural lands.
Hope to see you on the trail,
Anderson Design Group Staff Writer