The National Park System of the United States (NPS) covers over 84 million acres of land in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, America Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands.
Here are Travelmath’s 10 best national parks to visit including one in US Virgin Islands. We chose these parks because we like the idea of combining a vacation destination with a national park:
One: Zion National Park
Fly into international airports like Salt Lake City or Las Vegas and make either of these cities your base. Pick up a rental car at your convenience and follow the driving directions given by the NPS here.
Zion National Park offers shuttle service from the town of Springdale to the park. This is the best way to avoid parking hassles at the park.
Two: Denali National Park
You have the options or either driving or taking the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage or Fairbanks to Denali. The train takes eight hours from Anchorage and four hours from Fairbanks. See more of Alaska by combining Anchorage, Fairbanks and Denali National Park in your vacation package.
Three: Pinnacles National Park
San Francisco is 127 miles from Pinnacles National Park. According to NPS you can start your road trip from Hwy 101 south if you are going to the East Entrance. Highway 101 is one of the scenic routes in California and you can incorporate your national park visit with a scenic road trip on Highway 101.
Four: Mesa Verde National Park
Located at the southwest corner of Colorado, you may want to fly into Durango since the Telluride airport is under construction at the time of writing. According to Visit Mesa Verde website, the road to the national park is S-Curvy and precaution must be taken during wind advisory. Read more here.
Enjoy the great outdoors of Southwest Colorado and make Durango your base.
Five: Saguaro National Park
Located near the city of Tucson AZ, Saguaro is open year round. Late April is the best time to see the iconic Saguaro cacti bloom and in June the fruits will begin to ripen. August may be a bad time to visit because of the flash floods.
While you are in Tucson try rock climbing or bouldering. Tucson is one of the best places in United States for both activities.
Six: Voyageurs National Park
This park is located in International Falls MN and shares its northern boundary with Canada. Fly into Minneapolis-St. Paul airport and you can drive five hours north to Voyageurs National Park.
Entrance to the park is free but there are amenity fees for camping and tour boat fees.
Seven: Cuyahoga National Park
Fly into Cleveland and Akron OH and follow the directions provided by NPS on their website. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad offers excursions from Rockside Station in Independence to Akron Northside Station. And from Canton Lincoln Highway Station to Akron Northside Station.
Eight: Hawai’I Volcanoes National Park
Hawai’I Volcanoes National Park is located on the Big Island. International travelers will need to fly into Honolulu and catch a local flight from Honolulu to Hilo. You may visit the park by car in a few hours or explore on foot over several days.
Nine: Everglades National Park
Combine your vacation in Miami with a visit to Everglades National Park. Go biking, kayaking, bird watching, boating, camping, fishing, hiking and or a boat tour of Florida Bay.
Ten: Virgin Islands National Park
The Virgin Islands National Park is located in the island called St. John. You will need to fly to St. Thomas Cyril E. King Airport, rent a car and drive to Redhook at the west end of St. Thomas. Ferries are available for transfer from Redhook in St. Thomas to Cruz Bay St. John.
Tips for National Parks visit:
1. Annual pass is $80 per person. This pass provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refugees, national forests, and many other Federal lands. All active duty military members and their dependents may apply for a free America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.
2. 127 of the country’s 407 national parks are free to visit on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day weekend, during the opening weekend of National Park Week (in April), National Park Service Birthday (August 25), National Public Lands Day (September 26) and Veterans Day (November 11).
3. Off-road driving is illegal in most national parks. Find out about off-road driving before leaving home here.
Are you planning your summer vacation now? How about combining a trip to one of these national parks and a visit to the city you are flying into?