US National Parks to Visit in 2024

With 63 national parks scattered all throughout the country, there is never a bad time to plan for a national park road trip! Each park has something special to offer, from towering mountain ranges to fairytale rainforests, but there is no denying that a few parks have dominated the playing field.

Millions of visitors run to these awe-inspiring parks each year and with high visitation, comes a need for preparation. Start planning your 2024 vacation now! This guide will ensure that you have the national park adventure of your dreams.

Just think: 2024 can be the year that you stand amongst a forest of giant trees, watch the famous Old Faithful geyser erupt, and feast your eyes on some of the most dramatic mountain ranges in the country!

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Framalicious
  • Location: Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring to Early Summer

It is only right that the first national park on this list is also the first place to become a national park to begin with. Established in 1872, Yellowstone was deemed a place too valuable in natural wonders to develop on and it’s easy to see why. Geysers shoot boiling water upwards of 300 feet in the air, gigantic hot springs like Grand Prismatic sport the color of the rainbow, massive waterfalls plummet into the wide sweeping Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and an abundance of wildlife has given the park the nickname “The American Serengeti”. It is no wonder why Yellowstone is one of the most visited national parks in the country!

Bonus: Grand Teton National Park is located right below Yellowstone so you can plan a multi-national park adventure!

Olympic National Park

Maple tree in Olympic National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Danita Delimont.
  • Location: Washington
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer

If you are looking for variety, search no further than the one–of-a-kind Olympic National Park. Often overlooked by its iconic sister, Mount Rainier, Olympic’s wide range of ecosystems makes it feel like multiple parks all bundled up into one. Spend your mornings along the rugged coast admiring tide pool life before going for a scenic stroll in the Hoh Rainforest or its magical old growth forest counterpart.

Looking to take your adventure to the next level? Consider summiting a peak! Olympic has it all!

Zion National Park

Zion National Park.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Asif Islam
  • Location: Utah
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring OR Early Fall

Of Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks, Zion National Park has been rated as the visitor favorite time and time again. So much so that the park can only be entered via shuttle during the peak season. Upon entry, you will quickly see what all the fuss is about as you break your neck to admire the red rock cliffs towering over you and the lush greenery complimenting it all. This park is also home to bucket-list hikes like the Narrows and Angels Landing. Just make sure to grab a permit ahead of time!

Acadia National Park

Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park, Maine.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jon Bilous
  • Location: Maine
  • Best Time to Visit: Fall

Although Acadia National Park is one of the country’s smallest national parks, this place sure does a pack a punch. The 64 miles of untouched, picturesque coastline are the park’s crown jewel but there is even more to this park than what first meets the eye. Incredible fall foliage, countless charming lakes, the difficult yet iconic Beehive Loop Trail, and an easy drive up Cadillac Mountain for the first view of sunrise in the whole country. What more could you want?

Important Notice: Cadillac Mountain requires a reservation during peak season.

Big Bend National Park

 Rio Grande River in Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Bill Kennedy
  • Location: Texas
  • Best Time to Visit: Fall and Spring

An underrated gem, Big Bend National Park is the place you go if you are seeking solitude. Summer visits are not recommended due to the extreme weather but every other season is fair game! Ditch the crowds and spend your national park adventure searching for dinosaur bones, navigating through pristine canyons, learning about ancient history, and stargazing in one of the darkest places in the country.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Gem Lake in Rocky National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Colin D. Young
  • Location: Colorado
  • Best Time to Visit: Late Spring and Early Summer

With 355 miles of hiking trails and 60 mountain peaks that tower over 12,000 feet, Rocky Mountain National Park is a mecca for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. Spend your days photographing herds of elk with the iconic Longs Peak as the backdrop or make it your mission to hike to the summit of that same famous mountain. You get to choose your own adventure! With alpine lakes, waterfalls, mountains and wildlife galore, Rocky Mountain is a park that you return to time and time again.

Important Notice: A timed-entry reservation is required from May 24th to October 15th for both Trail Ridge Road and the Bear Lake corridor.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / MarksPursuit
  • Location: Montana and Canada
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer

Chances are that you have seen the iconic photos from Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road, but it really is a place that you have to see to believe… And even then, you might find yourself questioning reality! There is no question as to why this is one of the most scenic drives in North America. And that’s just Glacier National Park at a glance. Upon closer inspection you will be rewarded with too many alpine lakes to count, a mountain goat around every corner, and a wildflower season that is sure to leave you speechless.

Important Notice: A vehicle reservation is required for each section of the park from May 24th to September 8th. You do not need a vehicle reservation if you have a camping or lodging reservation in that specific section.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Lorcel
  • Location: California
  • Best Time to Visit: Year Round

Yosemite might not have been the first official national park, but it is the first place that got people working towards preservation. In 1864, the Yosemite Valley Grant Act was established to protect the valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove for public use. Tourists flocked to see this incredible landscape long before it became a national park in 1890.

But aside from its rich and significant history, Yosemite continues to be one of the most incredible places to visit thanks to its unmatched beauty. Towering granite rocks, including the famous El Capitan, light up a fire-red come sunset and a manifold of waterfalls ensure that there is always an adventure to be had. But the real star of the show is one of the tallest waterfalls on the continent, Yosemite Falls, dropping down 2,425 feet at the heart of the Yosemite Valley.

Important Notice: An entrance reservation will be required to drive into Yosemite during two different periods in summer 2024.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia national park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / My Good Images
  • Location: California
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer

While Yosemite can give you a taste for big trees, Sequoia National Park is the place to go if you want to feel like an ant amongst a forest of giant trees. Home to some of the world’s largest and oldest trees, this isn’t your average forest. In fact, Sequoia’s famous General Sherman Tree is the overall largest tree in the world!

And Sequoia’s sister park, Kings Canyon National Park, just down the road, this national park adventure is a two for one! Admire a never ending canyon and a breathtaking mountain range that is home to the tallest mountain in the continental United States- the one and only, Mount Whitney!

New River Gorge National Park

Bridge over New River Gorge National Park
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sean Pavone
  • Location: West Virginia
  • Best Time to Visit: Summer and Fall

While there are many tried and true national parks that have been around for decades, new national parks are being created all the time. The newest national park, New River Gorge National Park, was only just established in 2021 and it’s already a big hit! The park is home to the 5th longest single-span arch bridge in the world and there are plenty of ways that you can interact with it. Go for a walk along (or under) the bridge, bungee jump off the side, or take to the waters beneath it for an exhilarating white water adventure. The options are endless!

Nicole Westcott

Author: Nicole Westcott


Nicole Westcott is a freelance travel writer who loves traveling and hiking in some of America's most beautiful places. Whether it be backpacking through the iconic Grand Teton range or going for a relaxing stroll amongst a fairytale rainforest, I am in my happy place. I enjoy all types of travel and I am always planning my next adventure!

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