How to Decide Which National Park to Visit Next

It’s no secret that our country is a truly beautiful and diverse place. In traveling from one coast to the next, one might see mountains, wooded areas, deserts, plains, beaches, and much more. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that we have so many amazing national parks.

Many RVers make a point of visiting these national parks whenever possible, and we certainly can’t blame them. After all, why wouldn’t you want to see all the beauty nature has to offer in the USA? In fact, if you don’t already visit national parks in your RV (or in rental RVs), we 100% recommend getting started now.

Of course, one of the hardest parts of planning an RV trip to one of these parks is deciding which national parks to visit next. There are so many of them, and each and every one is so amazing, that choosing can feel next to impossible.

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Fortunately, there are ways to narrow your choices down a bit. In this article, we will help you figure out which parks might be best for you to visit next and why.

The Most Popular National Parks

Let’s begin by discussing the most popular national parks. These parks are popular for a reason, and should definitely hold a place on your bucket list. Therefore, if you see a park on this list that you haven’t visited and will be near that park soon, you simply must plan to see it.

Here are the top ten most popular parks:

  1. Yosemite National Park in California
  2. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona
  3. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
  4. Zion National Park in Utah
  5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee
  6. Acadia National Park in Maine
  7. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
  8. Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming
  9. Glacier National Park in Montana
  10. Olympic National Park in Washington

North Cascades National Park and Other Hidden Gems

Of course, not all of the great parks made it onto that popular park list. In fact, there are several national parks that are absolutely incredible, but fall very low on the list in terms of popularity. In some cases, the fact that these parks are hidden gems and thus have such lower crowd levels is a huge part of what makes them so wonderful.

Here are our favorite hidden gem national parks:

  • North Cascades National Park in Washington
  • Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida
  • Great Basin National Park in Nevada
  • Saguaro National Park in Arizona
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota
  • Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota

The Best National Parks to Visit by Season

In some cases, your best bet is to pick and choose which parks to visit based on the season. This will ensure you get the very best weather during your time in the park, and will even make a difference in terms of what kinds of plants and animals you have the chance to see.

Below we’ve put together short lists of the best parks to visit during the warm and cold seasons, respectively. Try using this as a guide next time you ask yourself, “Which national park should I visit?”

Winter

For a warm visit:

  • Death Valley National Park in California and Nevada
  • Everglades National Park in Florida
  • Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida
  • Joshua Tree National Park in California
  • Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii

For winter fun:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
  • Yosemite National Park in California
  • Zion National Park in Utah
  • Sequoia National Park in California

For the wildlife:

  • Channel Islands National Park in California (to see whales)

Summer

For pleasant temperatures:

  • Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
  • Glacier National Park in Montana
  • Zion National Park in Utah
  • North Cascades National Park in Washington
  • Crater Lake National Park in Oregon
  • Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming

For summer fun:

  • Acadia National Park in Maine
  • Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky
  • Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida

For the wildlife:

  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico (to see bats)

Things to Consider when Planning a National Parks Adventure

As you might imagine, there are many other things to consider when planning a trip to a national park. Considering these things may help you narrow down your options, making choosing a final destination a bit easier.

Here are some of the most important considerations:

Distance

How far are you willing and able to travel? If you must stay close to home, your options are narrowed down significantly.

Kids and Pets

Will you have kids or pets with you? Will they be able to participate in the activities you’d like to participate in? Will cliffs or wildlife make certain parks more dangerous for young kids or curious pups?

Crowds

Are you willing to deal with crowds? If not, you may want to avoid the most popular parks, or visit parks that are currently in their off season.

Gear Needed

Some parks might require that you have certain gear to experience them properly. You might need snorkeling gear, special hiking shoes, or snow chains for your tires. Find these things out ahead of time. If you can’t acquire the right gear, you may have to rule some parks out.

Weather

We touched on weather a bit in the section above. However, you will want to make sure you look into the weather where you are going. Will it be too hot for you? Too chilly?

Park Size

Some national parks are absolutely enormous, requiring a lot of time for exploration. Will you have time to fully explore the parks you have in mind?

Camping Options

Some national parks allows camping, but most only allow very small rigs. Finding out your camping options in the park and surrounding area can help you come to a decision.

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