I've traveled to all 50 states. Here are the 10 with the best national parks.
I've traveled to all 50 states. Here are the 10 with the best national parks.

I’ve traveled to all 50 states. Here are the 10 with the best national parks.

A trip to Utah might make you think you’re on Mars.

A view of Utah's peaks from outside plane window

Utah’s peaks are stunning.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

Home to the big five national parks — Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion — Utah is a standout state.

The landscape feels otherworldly. As a child, I was convinced the Temple of the Moon in Capitol Reef was proof aliens existed

If you’ve only got time to visit one state and want to go to many parks, then Utah is your best bet. 

Maine is home to one of the most visited and picturesque national parks in the country.

The writer wrapped in a towel on boat in water beside lighthouse

Maine has plenty of coastal beauty.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

Maine is popular for its lobster, sailing, and fishing scene, but it should be known for having one of the most spectacular national parks. 

With the highest point of the country’s eastern coast, Acadia National Park features lush greenery, rocky coasts, and granite peaks. 

I spent many summers in the region, but there’s still more to explore. After all, the park has 158 miles of hiking trails. 

Glacier National Park in Montana is severely underrated.

A dear walking through a field with frees around it in Montana

Montana is full of wildlife.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

Even though many people associate Montana with Yellowstone, only 3% of the national park is actually in the state.

However, Glacier National Park offers a spectacular — yet, at times, terrifying — glimpse into the natural landscape of the historic American West.

I spent the scariest evening of my youth camping out in Glacier with my family. I was 11, and a passing backpacker warned me of a mountain lion spotted nearby. I soon after heard its faint tracks. 

Florida and the Everglades are often overlooked.

The sun setting across the gulf coast in florida

I loved the sunset I watched on the Gulf Coast.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

As a Garden State native, I may be partial to the swamps of New Jersey, but I have to pay my respect to the Everglades.

Also known as the River of Grass, the Everglades doesn’t get enough credit, even domestically. But there is an otherworldly element to its natural beauty and wildness.

I’ll never forget the fiery sunset I saw while driving west across the Tamiami Trail to the Gulf Coast. The surrounding forest and two-lane highway were bathed in an eerily fluorescent glow as alligators darted into the brush along the road. 

California is home to the most majestic forests.

View of california forest by cost line and pastel sky

Plus sunsets on the West Coast are spectacular.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

If you want to be engulfed by lush, majestic greenery, then Northern California is the way to go.

I’m partial to the Redwoods National and State Parks, as the towering Parker Group was named for my great-great-grandfather, Captain James Parker.

Plus the collection of parks contains miles of coast redwoods, the tallest trees in the world

And even though Yosemite may be well-known, it’s far from overrated. 

The sights in Alaska are nothing short of spectacular.

The writing perched on the edge of a boat in Alaska

I loved exploring Alaska’s wilderness.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

Alaska is the state with the second-most national parks in America.

I recently visited the Inside Passage, home to Glacier Bay, on a fishing trip into the wild. Plus I’m planning to go to Sheldon Chalet to revel in the light from the stars.

Though Denali in the winter — the best time to see the northern lights — is still on my bucket list.


I love the moody drama of Washington’s rain-soaked parks.

Several people standing on peak in washington with blue sky in background

Washington has some great hiking.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

The brilliant, overcast peaks of North Cascades and Olympic National Park are enough to put even the most cheerful traveler in an introspective mood.

When I was 11, my family intended to camp at Mount Rainier, but a blizzard sent hikers down the mountain and back toward the base lodge. I knew then I wanted to be like those backpackers in their snow-covered boots and rain-drenched windbreakers.

I haven’t yet peaked Rainier, but there’s still time.

Imbued with spiritual significance, Hawaii’s national parks are stunning and diverse.

The writer overlooking the ocean and peaks of hawaii

Moloka’i is a beautiful island.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

I’ll never forget my adventures on the Big Island, traveling from the rainy side in Hilo to the dry, volcanic landscape of Kona.

Plus if it’s drama you’re after, then Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is sure to impress.

The majestic beauty of Hawaii’s parks is deeply tied to the island’s native culture and spirituality. For example, Kīpahulu in Haleakalā National Park is believed to be the home of the god Laka, who’s worshipped by canoe builders. 

Every bit of Hawaii is magic, and the land that’s designated sacred or special is undeniably stunning.

Wyoming is home to America’s first and prettiest national parks.

A person standing in a vast, snow-covered Wyoming field surrounded by huge mountains

I visited Colter Bay in Grand Teton National Park.

Katherine Parker-Magyar

96% of Yellowstone, the US’ first established national park, is in Wyoming — but that’s not what put the Cowboy State at top of my list.

In my opinion, Grand Teton is simply the most beautiful place in America.

Take in the beauty by heading to Oxbow Bend at sunset, sunbathing along the shore of Colter Bay, kayaking Jackson Lake on a sunny afternoon, or hiking to the top of Inspiration Point.



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