Grand Canyon National Park

10 Best National Parks to Visit in 2024

Rachel Lark - April 25, 2024

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If you’ve made 2024 your year of travel, you’ll want to plan a trip to the 10 best national parks in the United States. These federally-protected lands are a sight to behold — some with an uncertain future amid climate change and human-caused degradation. 

From the West Coast to the East Coast — and just off the coast in turquoise waters — there is a whole world awaiting discovery. Here are the national parks you won’t want to miss in 2024. 

1. Everglades National Park

Just an hour away from Downtown Miami with additional access points in Naples and Everglades City, the Florida Everglades offers 1.5 million acres of vast sawgrass and water channels — a subtropical and tropical paradise for numerous species. 

The U.S. bestowed the Everglades with its national park title in 1934, since becoming a Wetland of International Importance and attracting one million visitors annually. Plan an entire day’s worth of memories with the following recreational activities:

  • Airboat rides through the marsh
  • Hiking and biking along trails in Shark Valley, Long Pine Key Nature Trail, and Snake Bight Trail
  • Camping in Flamingo and Long Pine Key campgrounds
  • Kayak and canoe tours, some of which may last a week 
  • Park fishing
  • Guided park tours with naturalists and rangers 
  • Wildlife watching, including alligators, white and blue herons, roseate spoonbills, and various snakes

If you’re lucky, you may even spot one of the Everglades’ 39 endangered species roaming about, such as the Florida panther or piping plover.

2. Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is one of the country’s most beloved national parks ever. Spanning 278 miles along the Colorado River in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon attracts nature lovers, creatives, and thrill-seekers alike.

Take in expansive views of rust-hued geological formations millions of years old. One of the best ways to see the Grand Canyon is by foot, with trails for hikers at every skill level. 

It’s not all rocks and harrowing cliffsides, though. Visitors often enjoy whitewater rafting down the Colorado River between the canyon walls. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to extend your stay with a camping trip under the stars.

3. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is one of the best national parks to visit for geothermal springs and wildlife. Since becoming a federally protected site in 1872, Yellowstone has welcomed millions of people each year. In fact, the park had 4.86 million and 3.29 million visitors in 2021 and 2022, respectively. 

Feast your eyes on giant bison herds in richly green meadows and neon hot springs. You’ll quickly notice the varied landscape when meandering Yellowstone National Park — forests, prairies, and snow-capped mountains are habitats for hundreds of bird, fish, and animal species.

4. Glacier National Park

The best time to visit Glacier National Park in Montana is between July and August when daytime temperatures reach the low 80s and nights dip into the 40s. You may even catch a glimpse of summer snow the higher you trek on the east side.

Absorb the unspoiled landscape of thousand-year-old glacier ranges and lush valleys — a haven for nature lovers. During your visit, watch for grizzly bears, elk, wolves, and bald eagles as Glacier National Park is a biodiversity hotspot with 66 species of mammals living within the park. Also, take a kayak out on the beautiful Lake McDonald. 

5. Death Valley National Park

Perhaps best known for its remarkable stargazing, Death Valley National Park is a sight to behold. This vast desert stretches 5,270 square miles, from the northern Mojave Desert in California to Nevada.

The park got its ominous name after a group of pioneers got lost during the winter of 1849. Although only one died during the season, they assumed none would survive.

You can see most of the park’s most famous landmarks by car, such as the salt flats at Zabriskie Point or Harmony Borax Works — the notorious borax processing plant. You can even visit well-known filming locations for Star Wars. 

6. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park in California is one of the most renowned national parks in the country, with plenty to offer adventurers. Among its many recreational opportunities, Echo Cove delivers 400 rock formations for beginners and experienced climbers.

Take photos of the Yucca brevifolia — the Joshua Tree, which gave the park its name — or plan a camping trip. Feel free to set up your campground anywhere among the park’s vast 800,000 acres. 

7. White Sands National Park

You might wonder if you’re getting a beautiful beach escape with a name like White Sands National Park. However, seeing the Tularosa Basin in New Mexico will shock you. White Sands is known as the largest gypsum dune field worldwide, spanning 275 square miles, with various animals adapted to life in the desert.  

White Sands National Park is perfect for hikers seeking a challenging course. Backcountry camping, horseback riding, biking, and scenic drives are also popular. 

8. Virgin Islands National Park

It’s easy to forget the U.S. Virgin Islands in your national park tour, but you should consider adding it to your list. Covering most of St. John, you’ll have the chance to explore 7,000 acres of protected tropical habitat, enshrouded in a rich history of colonialism and slavery. 

Walk its white sand beaches or relax the afternoon away under a coconut tree. The park is particularly well-known for its 800 plant species and healthy coral reefs. Other activities include snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, and bird-watching. Meanwhile, photographers should head to North Shore Road or Overlook for the best views. 

9. Shenandoah National Park

It’s hard to imagine picturesque Shenandoah National Park is only 75 miles from Washington, D.C. People from all over come to see its spectacular scenery, streaming rivers and waterfalls, vast flower fields, and forestry. 

There’s an array of biking, hiking, fishing, and camping activities for adventurers. You can also take a scenic skyline drive through Shendandoah — a three-hour, 105-mile drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Just remember to stick to the 35-mile-per-hour speed limit to avoid hitting wildlife crossing the road. 

10. Dry Tortugas National Park

Need a break from winter weather? Dry Tortugas National Park is the best national park to visit in January. Hop a catamaran from Key West for a day on the 100-square-mile park, comprised of seven small islands and surrounded by clear, turquoise water.

Fort Jefferson maintains centuries-old military history for enthusiasts, while many people come for recreational activities, camping on Garden Key, and wildlife viewing. Scuba lovers will particularly enjoy diving among some of Florida’s last living coral reefs. 

Plan the Trip of a Lifetime to the Best National Parks in the U.S. 

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or looking to relax in the mountains, coastlines, or desert, there are plenty of national parks to visit this year. Plan your trip according to the best season and activities and create lasting memories. 

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About the author

Rachel Lark

Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.