5 Best National Parks for Hiking in the U.S.

The United States National Park system is filled with protected lands that boast some of the world’s most breathtaking views and wildlife. If you’re an outdoor adventurer, national parks are your outdoor playground, and with 63 National Parks in the U.S. and its territories, there are plenty that offer world-class hikes with amazing scenery. 

If you’re ready to lace up your hiking boots and explore some of America’s best footpaths, check out our list of the best National Parks for hiking below.

1. Yosemite National Park

Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California, Yosemite is one of America’s most popular National Parks. With giant sequoia trees, massive waterfalls, and steep cliffs, Yosemite is one of the top National Parks for hiking. Take a look at some of the best trails in this National Park:

  • Upper Yosemite Falls: Hike up towering granite walls to reach the top of Upper Yosemite Falls, which drops over 2,000 feet to the bottom. Along the way, you’ll walk through dense vegetation, along water features, and across a catwalk chiseled out of the granite mountain face. In total, this hike is 7.2 miles with a vert of 2,700 feet, making it a great day hike.
  • Half Dome: One of Yosemite’s most iconic features is Half Dome, which is a granite rock formation named after its distinct shape. To hike Half Dome, you will need to register for a permit with the Park Service. For most hikers, this trek takes anywhere between 10 and 12 hours, depending on any stops taken along the way.

 To get the most out of this hike, it’s best to leave at sunrise and to bring plenty of food and water. Once you reach the base of Half Dome, you’ll experience a steep incline that scales the mountain with a wire cable. However, once you reach the top, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the entire park.

  • Bridalveil Fall: For an easy hike that should only take an hour or two, check out Bridalveil Fall. This 1.2-mile round trip hike brings you to Bridalveil Fall, where you can enjoy the mist and beauty of this 620-foot waterfall.

If you’re looking for hiking trips in National Parks with impeccable views, you can’t go wrong with Yosemite. From hiking through the backcountry to the more popular trails like Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, you’re sure to capture amazing views and memories in this National Park.

2. Grand Canyon National Park

As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon is home to some of Earth’s best hikes. Check out these Grand Canyon National Park trails:

  • South Kaibab Trail: One of the most popular hikes in the Grand Canyon is along the South Kaibab Trail, which brings hikers down into the canyon to the Colorado River. This 7-mile one-way hike makes a perfect day hike for those looking to explore the canyon.
  • Rim to Rim: The Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon isn’t for the faint of heart. This 24-mile hike goes from the North Rim to the South Rim, or vice versa, allowing you to cross the Colorado River and experience all the Grand Canyon has to offer. Most hikers complete this journey during a one- or two-day backpacking trip, but it can be completed in a single day.

3. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is known for its unique rock formations and crimson red cliff sides. The beauty of this park makes it one of the best National Parks for hiking. Explore some of Zion’s best hiking trails below:

  • Angel’s Landing: One of Zion’s most popular trails is to the top of Angel’s Landing, a scenic vista overlooking the entirety of the park. To get here, you’ll hike 2.4 miles one way, climbing over 1,500 feet. Once you reach the final climb, you’ll face a narrow ridge and chain-assisted rock climbing sections to make it to the top of Angel’s Landing.
  • The Narrows: Another popular National Park trail is The Narrows. To hike The Narrows, you can reach up to 16 miles, depending on how far you want to go. What makes this hike so special are the massive rock walls that cut through the slot canyon. Carved by the Virgin River, The Narrows is a hike you’ll never forget.

4. Mount Rainier National Park

Located in Washington, Mount Rainier National Park allows visitors to walk through subalpine wildflower meadows and hike to the summit of this active stratovolcano. Explore some popular hikes in Mount Rainier below:

  • Skyline Trail: The Skyline Trail is dubbed one of the top National Park trails in the country. The reason being is that hikers get to explore Myrtle Falls, climb the slopes of Mount Rainier, and reach Panorama Point. This 6.2-mile loop has plenty of connecting trails hikers can take to extend their adventure.
  • Naches Peak Loop: For a family of hikers, Naches Peak Loop is a safe bet. Along this trail, visitors can trek the northeast side of Mount Rainier and spend time on segments of the famous Pacific Coast Trail.

5. Grand Teton National Park

The Tetons are another famous mountain range, located in the Pacific Northwest in Wyoming. Explore some of Grand Teton National Park’s top hikes below:

  • Garnet Canyon: If you’re looking for a day hike with astonishing views, Garnet Canyon is a great option. Here, you can capture images of the Grand, Middle, and South Tetons with great views of the rest of the park.
  • The Paintbrush Canyon - Cascade Canyon Loop: For those interested in a strenuous backpacking hike, step foot on the Paintbrush Canyon - Cascade Canyon Loop. This 20-mile trail brings you through some of Grand Teton’s most popular attractions, including Jenny Lake, Inspiration Point, Paintbrush Canyon, Cascade Canyon, and Lake Solitude.

Explore the Best National Parks for Hiking With Road Scholar

At Road Scholar, we have a wide range of educational National Park tours that can bring you the top National Parks for hiking in the country. Hiking National Parks is a great way to learn about America’s heritage, discover wildlife, and explore diverse landscapes. 

Our expert-led National Park tours will connect you with a diverse cohort of adventures, allowing you to gain a deeper understanding of the culture and biodiversity of our country’s parks. Before embarking on your next adventure, make sure to review our National Park travel tips to ensure a safe and memorable trip.

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