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Best National Parks to Visit this Summer

Rohan Vasa, Writer

Grand Teton at Schwabacher's Landing

Sometimes, the best experiences are right in your own backyard. We’re talking about the great outdoors in the top national parks in the U.S.A. These aren’t just summer destinations either; some parks are evergreen (excuse the pun) throughout the year. We know you don’t want to rough it either, so we have the scoop on the top places to stay.

Summer is the best time to enjoy America’s National Parks. You can experience a range of landscapes from vast canyons to deep lakes, snow-peaked mountains to ancient forests. These parks are some of the most spectacular in the world, bringing travelers from throughout the globe. The rich biodiversity and wildlife offer ample views for photographers and plenty of opportunities for kids to learn about nature. In each park you go to there’s an abundance of outdoor activities like camping, hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing. However, not all of us are made for roughing it in the outdoors. So we’ll give you insider tips on what luxury accommodations are close by each location. These are the best National Parks to visit this Summer that offer you a chance to unplug and reconnect to nature.

Yellowstone National Park

The Park: Yellowstone National Park

The Location: Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is one of the most famous in the United States. It was the first national park in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site spanning 2.2 million acres. However, although it is primarily in Wyoming small parts of it also merge into Montana and Idaho. The park is also home to the Yellowstone Caldera which is the most active system of Volcanoes in North America. You can see traces of this volcanic system throughout the park in the form of geothermal geysers and hot springs. As a result, these have influenced the topography of the park and the ecosystem it houses. The most famous of these phenomena is the Old Faithful Geyser, whose frequent eruptions attract lots of visitors.

Yellowstone National Park

Throughout the park, you can see tons of wildlife like bison, moose, elk, black bears, grizzly bears, and even wolves. Trekking the vast network of trails you will find many notable landmarks. For example, you have the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, the Yellowstone River, the Yellowstone Lake, and the towering waterfalls. With millions of visitors every year, this park is a must on any list. 

The Hotels: Montage Big Sky and Amangani Jackson Hole

The Park: Yosemite National Park

The Location: Northern California

Yosemite National Park sits in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. One of the oldest national parks in America, it spans nearly 750,000 acres and is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you enter into the valley you are confronted by the immensity of its breathtaking granite cliffs. The most famous of these are El Captain and Half Dome, which are sought by rock climbers around the world. The park is also known for the Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in North America.

Yosemite National Park

The landscapes of Yosemite range from rocky cliffs to alpine meadows, expansive forest groves to shining lakes. Each supports its own set of wildlife like black bears, deer, coyotes, mules, and different birds. The park has a reputation for being one of the most awe-inspiring places in the world. A long list of artists and writers have tried to capture its beauty.

The Hotels: The Evergreen Lodge

Joshua Tree National Park

The Park: Joshua Tree National Park

The Location: Southern California

On the other end of the state lies Joshua Tree National Park, named after the tree found throughout the area. Its nearly 800,000 acres feature the beauty of both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. The convergence of these ecosystems creates a diversity of flora and fauna that populate either end of the park. In addition, the trails offer sights of numerous rock formations, geological marvels, and scenic lookout points along the way. Popular trails include Ryan Mountain, Hidden Valley, Barker Dam, and 49 Palms Oasis.

Joshua Tree National Park

Many visitors come to Joshua Tree for its outdoor activities. For example, you can find people hiking, camping, stargazing, and rock climbing. Climbing in particular is a major attraction of Joshua Tree because of its interesting formations and boulder routes. There is also a designated Dark Sky Park which is ideal for observing the stars. For wildlife, Joshua Tree is populated with sheep, coyotes, jackrabbits, a variety of birds, tortoises, and other reptiles. During the Summer months, the nights are cool but it can get very hot during the day. Check the weather before picking your dates.

The Hotels:

We recommend staying in Palm Springs which is right next to Joshua Tree. The Ace Hotel and The Parker Hotel are two options that are cool and fun, geared to a younger crowd. Sensei Porcupine Creek is more of a private luxury experience in the area. You can also check out two of our other articles – The Guide to Palm Springs and The Retreat: Joshua Tree.

Grand Canyon National Park

The Park: Grand Canyon National Park

The Location: Arizona

The Grand Canyon National Park is known throughout the world for its immense size and dramatic landscape. Covering 1.2 million acres, the Grand Canyon was formed over millions of years and was carved by the Colorado River’s flow. As a result, the colorful rock formations are known for the stores of important history and data in the sediment. At its deepest point, the canyon extends 6,093 feet below the rim. There are multiple breathtaking viewpoints at both the North and South Rim. For example, popular stops are Mather Point, Yavapai Point, and the Desert View Watchtower.

Grand Canyon National Park

There are plenty of hikes and trails you can explore that range in difficulty. Some descend into a small part of the canyon while others are multi-day hikes that go from rim to rim. In addition, at the bottom of the canyon is the Colorado River which offers opportunities for kayaking and rafting. Throughout the park, you can see deer, condors, coyotes, sheep, and a range of reptiles and birds.

The Hotels: Amangiri Utah

Haleakala National Park

The Park: Haleakalā National Park

The Location: Hawaii

Although it may be far, it is well worth the travel. Hawaii is sought after by many for its breathtaking landscapes and natural preserves. The Haleakalā National Park is located on the island of Maui. The park itself surrounds a dormant volcano that stands roughly 10,000 feet above sea level. This volcano is home to the Haleakalā Crater, a gigantic depression at the center of the volcano that’s 2,600 feet deep. This is one of the park’s main highlights because its surreal landscape mimics the barrenness of the Moon and Mars. It is also known for its Sunrise and Sunset viewings which showcase the incredible spectacle of colors from the summit.

Haleakala National Park

There are a variety of trails that feature different ecosystems and unique geological formations. The Sliding Sands Trail takes you down directly into the crater where you can explore the volcanic landscape. In addition, you can find local flora and fauna as well as birds and insects native to the islands. Besides hiking, many take the opportunity to camp in its designated Dark Sky Park for stargazing. Importantly, Haleakalā is significant to Hawaiian culture where it is considered a sacred place connected to ancestral legends and traditions.

The Hotels: The Four Seasons Maui


Honorable Mentions:

Denali National Park and Preserve – Alaska

Zion National Park – Utah

Glacier National Park – Montana

Olympic National Park – Washington


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