Top 10 biggest US national parks

Top 10 biggest US national parks

If you are an adventurous person, there is a perfect national park for you. Whether you just want to drive your car to a bison herd, embark on a hiking journey, or visit the desert, there is a national park for everybody, filled with scenic drives, miles of hiking trails, wildlife, historic sites, and many opportunities for adventure. Let’s go through the top 10 biggest national parks to visit in the US for your next adventurous trip.

It is also best to get a USA tourist SIM card while going on your trip to be able to communicate with your loved ones at very low rates.

Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska

Located in Alaska, the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the country’s largest national park at 33,682.60 square km. The national park is part of the Kluane/Wrangell–St. Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to numerous volcanoes and vast numbers of wild animals.

The national park has many views that visitors will enjoy such as mountains, forests, glaciers, ice fields, and many more. Visitors can also get observe Alaskan bears, moose, wolves, bison, and caribou in their natural habitat. So, if you are a national park lover, Wrangell-St. Elias should be your next trip destination.

Further reading: Top 5 US national parks to visit in 2022

Yellowstone National Park, Idaho

Known as the first national park in the world, Yellowstone National Park frequently makes the best national parks in the USA. It has many geological features you’ll find nowhere else on Earth, such as colorful hot springs, herds of bison and elk, geysers and bubbling mud pits, waterfalls and canyons, and the largest high-elevation lake in North America.

Location: Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Number of visitors: 4.9 million visitors annually, making it the 3rd most visited park.

When to go: Summer and early fall is the best time to visit.

Things to do: Visit Old Faithful, spot wildlife in Lamar and Hayden Valleys, see the Grand Prismatic Spring, visit the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and hike the short trails in Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris Geyser Basin.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Located on the ancestral homeland of 11 Associated Tribes, Grand Canyon National Park is home to one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States. It is most popular for its interesting views, and amazing hiking trails, and it makes a great road trip destination. The national park is also one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Location: Arizona

Number of visitors: About 4.5 million annually, making it the 4th most visited national park.

When to go: You can visit the Grand Canyon all year

Things to do: Visit the South Rim viewpoints, watch the sunset, hike below the rim on the Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trail, raft the Colorado River, take a flightseeing tour, and visit the North Rim.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi and the biggest tourist attraction in Maine. The park is nicknamed the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” and has amazing views such as Somes Sound, Frenchman Bay, Jordan Pond, and Cadillac Mountain. It has 125 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails, that lead to some of the best viewpoints of the park.

Location: Maine

Number of visitors: About 4 million annually, making Acadia the 6th most visited national park

When to go: Go in mid-October for fall colors and experiences.

Things to do: Hike the Precipice Trail, take boat cruises, dine on lobster, and explore the lovely coastal town of Bar Harbor.

Are you planning a trip this December?

Further reading: Best places to visit in December

Gates of the Arctic, Alaska

With an area that is about 2 million acres large, Gate of the Arctic is a national park north of the Arctic Circle. The park is one of the most remote national parks in the US as it has no roads. This makes it the least visited park in the US although it was designated a national park to preserve the natural landscape and its ecosystems.

Even though the park does not have a single visit center, it still has amazing views you can enjoy as a visitor such as wild rivers, boreal forests, ancient seabeds, cliffs, mountain ranges, and many more. So, wildlife, seclusion, and mountainous scenery are the draw to this national park.

Yosemite National Park, California

Known as One of California’s most-visited national parks, Yosemite national park is one of the best national parks in the USA to visit. The park stands out for its amazing waterfalls, such as Vernal Fall and Bridalveil Fall, as well as unique granite rock formations like Half Dome and El Capitan.

Location: California

Number of visitors: About 3.3 million annually, making it the 8th most visited national park.

When to go: The best time to visit Yosemite is from mid-May through November which is when all of the park roads are open.

Things to do: Hike to the top of Half Dome, which is a 17 miles round trip with 5,500 feet of elevation gain.

Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali is one of the most popular national parks in the United States bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Known for its incredible wilderness, the national park is a 250-mile ride from Anchorage and offers incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.

You can enjoy its beautiful glaciers, mountain ranges, and forests. You also get to see grizzly bears, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, or caribou during your visit to the park. For more enjoyment during your visit, you can take part in winter activities such as snowmobiling, dogsledding, cross-country skiing, and many more.

Further reading: Best places to visit in Winter

Katmai National Park, Alaska

Located on the Alaska Peninsula, an area known for its array of active volcanoes, including Mount Katmai and Trident Mountain, Katmai National Park is another massive park in Alaska. Most of Katmai is a designated wilderness area where you find birds, grizzlies, moose, and many more.

Some of the major attractions in the park include waterfalls, fjords, marshlands, and densely forested areas. Many people visit Katmai to Brooks Camp to the bear-viewing platforms, where they can watch 2,000 brown bears feed on salmon.

Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National Park is located along the California and Nevada border and is known for being the driest and hottest national park in the country. There are amazing views that visitors can experience, such as snow-capped mountains, colorful rock layers, water-fluted canyons, never-ending dunes, and many more.

The park is a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, and it is located between different valleys and deserts, like the Panamint, Eureka, and Saline valleys as well as the Great Arid Basin and the Mojave Desert. You can take part in many activities during your visit to the park, such as scenic drives, hikes, camping, and many more.

Glacier National Park, Alaska

Glacier National Park is located in Alaska in the far east, while the northern part of the park alone covers more than three hundred glaciers, which is the highest for a US national park. The park has interesting ecosystems that range from tundra to hemlock forests, and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a Biosphere Reserve.

The park has many different animals and is most popular as a cruise destination where people take in the natural beauty such as mountain peaks, lakes, narrow trails, and many more. The National Park is also a great location to take part in activities like rafting, hiking, and birdwatching, and if you are lucky, you can get to see grizzly bears, wolverines, wolves, and osprey.

Biggest US national parks FAQs

1. What is America’s biggest national park?

The biggest national park in America is Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve.

2. Which US agency operates national parks?

The National Park Service (NPS) is the agency that operates the US national parks.

3. How many national parks in the United States have UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status?

21 national parks have UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status in the US.

4. How many national parks in the US are paired with a national reserve?

8 national parks (including 6 in Alaska) are paired with a national preserve.

8. What is the smallest national park in the United States?

Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial is the smallest national park in the US.