Pick Your Park

Organizing a national park vacation can take a lot of planning, but it shouldn't be hard work. You might want to consider lodging possibilities, know what camping options exist, and look into the activities available for your enjoyment.

The following pages offer overviews of specific parks, outline lodging, camping, and hiking opportunities, and look at some other aspects of the parks, such as wildlife resources. These are "living" profiles and will continue to evolve, so check back from time to time to see what additions have been made to specific parks and to see which parks we've added.

Acadia National Park

"Raw, rugged, and surf-splashed" well define Acadia National Park, which at anchor in the Atlantic just off Maine's coast quite easily could also be described as a Yankee blueblood of the National Park System.

Arches National Park

Arches is one of the world's, not just one of the United States', most incredible national parks.

When you gaze at Balanced Rock, climb up into the Windows, or walk under Delicate Arch, it's hard to argue against that claim. The park's rock-itecture -- windows cut from stone, spindly arches longer than a football field, thin fins of rock -- and desertscape are otherworldly.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a globally recognized icon of the American landscape.

Stretches of road elsewhere in the United States may indeed be spectacular, but nothing matches this manicured, uniquely uncommercialized, half a thousand mile thoroughfare through the lofty heart of America’s first frontier.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Southern Utah's national parks all are red-rock wonders.

Canyonlands National Park

Baked by time like some multi-layer geologic tort, Canyonlands in southeastern Utah features a landscape cut by canyons, rumpled by upthrusts, dimpled by grabens, and even pockmarked, some believe, by ancient asteroids.

Capitol Reef National Park

A hogback running nearly 100 miles north and south through central Utah is the defining spine of Capitol Reef National Park, but this ruddy landscape offers many more geologic and cultural wonders.

Death Valley National Park

Never mind the heat (although, Death Valley does lay claim to the highest officially recorded temperature on Earth.) It's the geology that captures your mind as you roam this sprawling national park. The sand dunes. The eroded hillsides and carved canyons. The alluvial fans painted scarlet, lemon, orange and purple with wildflowers after wet winters.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Though a harbor for the country's greatest collection of tidewater glaciers, Glacier Bay National Park is more than just ice and water.

Glacier National Park

Sweeping, grandiose landscapes are a staple of many of the West's iconic national parks, and among those Glacier easily stands out when you look from horizon to horizon atop Logan Pass.

Grand Canyon National Park

A colorful rift in the earth millions of years -- and immeasurable gallons of water -- in the making, the jagged maw of the Grand Canyon draws crowds content enough to simply stare across this impressive cross-section of geology from either the South or North rim of its namesake national park.

Grand Teton National Park

Swift, powerful strokes carry the osprey and its meal away from the river. Winging through the trees that line the Snake River, the raptor carries a fat, protein-rich fish -- a trout, maybe a sucker -- that its talons moments ago had plucked from the swirling river.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Proof of landscape resiliency -- and incredible diversity -- are on display in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many stories are told within the park’s roughly 800 square miles that cover the Tennessee-North Carolina border like a rumpled blanket.

Joshua Tree National Park

A geologic showcase that is a climber's gymnasium, plus two different desert settings, are on display in Joshua Tree National Park. Straddling the geographic divide that splits the Mojave Desert from an element of the Sonoran Desert, the park located about two hours east of Los Angeles in Southern California is both a day tripper's paradise and an adventurer's escape.

Mesa Verde National Park

Eight centuries ago, for reasons still not fully understood, they got up and left. After roughly 700 years of living around and atop two slender mesas now recognized as part of southwestern Colorado, a society simply got up and left.

Olympic National Park

Gem of the Northwest, Olympic National Park offers a spectacular trifecta of national park settings.

Petrified Forest National Park

Threads of the Late Triassic Period more than 200 million years ago run rampant through Petrified Forest National Park, and not just in the trunks of stone trees that dot this multi-hued landscape in northeastern Arizona.

Shenandoah National Park

Though worn and rumpled by the passage of time, a gentler, more rounded visage of the towering range of mountains they were in their youth, the Blue Ridge Mountains that shoulder Shenandoah National Park are no less worthy of inspection.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

When a young Theodore Roosevelt came west in the 1880s, he encountered a landscape unlike any he had set his eyes on. The rippled badlands of the Dakota Territory, cut and carved through the millennia by the Little Missouri River, were stark and barren, and yet inviting to the young man.

Virgin Islands National Park

Beaches sparkling white and palm-lined. Warm Caribbean waters tinted turquoise and flecked with darting blue tangs, schools of yellow sergeant majors, and luminescent green parrot fish. Coral reefs swaying in the currents with their fans and given depth and texture by brain, staghorn, and elkhorn corals. These make this national park a tropical paradise.

Yellowstone National Park

No more iconic park exists in the world than Yellowstone National Park, thanks to its role in launching the national parks movement, its incredible geothermal features, beautiful scenery, and rich fount of wildlife.

Yosemite National Park

As awe-inspiring as the Yosemite Valley is, it is not the length and breadth of Yosemite National Park, but rather only one measure of this High Sierra beaut. Sadly, a surprising number of people never venture out of the valley with its towering granite walls and, in season, wispy waterfalls, to explore the other wonders of the park.

And that's their loss.

Zion National Park