USA & Canada | Destination Guides

We asked, you answered: these are the best National Parks in the USA

When it comes to narrowing down the best National Parks in the USA it’s no easy task. Did you know there are 63 National Parks scattered across the States? That makes it awfully difficult to choose the very best.

It’s why we turned to our audience for help. We asked YOU on Trafalgar’s Instagram page to share what you thought the best American National Parks were. The results are in, so read on and leave us a comment at the bottom with your favourites. 

Best National Park in USA for wildlife spotting

The results came back neck-in-neck for Denali National Park in Alaska versus Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. While magnificent Yellowstone was elected the world’s first National Park in 1872, the 2.2 million acres with unique hydrothermal and geological features fell behind Alaska’s park for wildlife by just two percent. If you do head to Yellowstone you’ll experience active geysers, plus hopefully spot bears, wolves, bison, elk and more.

Nudging out in front, Denali National Park is home to big creatures including grizzly and black bears, wolves, moose, caribou and Dall’s sheep. Expect to see incredible birdlife plus arctic ground and red squirrels, foxes and Hoary marmots. 

“We were able to see an amazing number of wildlife on this trip. Every stop was well planned for us to play tourist with no worries”

– Trafalgar Guest on National Park Wonders

GET INSPIRED BY: National Park Wonders

Best National Park in USA for scenery

Jutting out of the landscape like huge granite skyscrapers, mega stone monoliths (including El Capitan, the tallest at 2,308 metres) define the brilliant and scenic landscapes of Yosemite National Park.

One of the best National Parks in the USA for climbers, our Trafalgar fans voted it the best American National Park for scenery. On some trips lucky guests even get to stay the night in a cosy lodge just a stone’s throw from Yosemite Falls. The next morning join a guided hike, passing under giant, ancient sequoia trees and learning about the natural history, flora and fauna.

Coming in second by a small margin, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, is quieter than Yellowstone, which is just a three-hour drive away. The dramatic, mountain skyline of the “Tetons” touches the sky at 4,199 metres high. Standing tall compared to the flat plains, this contrasting scenery draws visitors to the park. Here you can enjoy a float trip down the Snake River in spring and see elk rutting in September.

GET INSPIRED BY: California’s Great National Parks

Best Desert National Park in the USA

It’s hard to beat the pulling power of Utah’s great National Parks. Trafalgar fans gave Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah 67 percent of the vote, compared with just 33 percent for Joshua Tree National Park in California.

Orange-tinted Bryce Canyon can be part moonscape at times. The Utah National Park is filled with unusual desert scenery including natural amphitheatres and spire-shaped rocks. In winter the contrast of bright white snow and orange rock is so unique. It’s no surprise this park draws around 1.5 million visitors a year.

“We loved the itinerary and saw some incredible landscapes and took some amazing photos. Our group was the best! Everyone was friendly, kind and caring. I would encourage anyone who wants to see unbelievable natural beauty and canyons and eerie landscapes to take this particular trip.”

Trafalgar Guest on Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks

Joshua Tree might be second, but it isn’t one to skip. America’s 10th most visited National Park, here you can view impressive rock faces, hike a few trails and see the namesake twisted trees. Scattered throughout the desert park are more than 500 archaeological sites plus quirky points-of-interest like UFO-shaped homes and ghost towns.

RELATED BLOG: Everything you need to know about our new Small Group Active Trips

Best National Park in USA for hiking

It seems like Utah is a favourite for its National Parks. A clear favourite for its trails, Trafalgar fans voted Zion National Park the best for hiking ahead of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Zion, the third most visited American National Park with 3.6 million visitors, is a clear fan favourite with epic canyons, rust-red rockface, waterfalls and great hiking trails. A favourite hike is the Angel’s Landing, a precarious and narrow hike up a ridge, but there are dozens of stunning, less dangerous hikes to embark on and experience the beauty of the park.

“This itinerary is absolutely not to be missed. We went to all 5 National Parks in Utah which includes Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion. We hiked some amazing trails and saw Bighorn Sheep grazing in a pasture, a unique and rare sight. We were treated to an aeroplane ride over Lake Powell which gave us a perspective we wouldn’t have had on land and was well worth it. We went to places we would have missed had we tried to do this on our own.”

Trafalgar Guest on Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks

In Colorado, keep an eye out for porcupines, pikas, moose and the odd mountain lion on a hike through Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s a good chance you’ll pass by a few of the 150 lakes on one of 359 trails that snake through the park. There’s two sides – the west is lush, green and vibrant, while the east is more arid. Take your pick and experience 60 epic peaks.

GET INSPIRED BY: Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks

What do you think are the best National Parks in the USA? Let us know in the comments…

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