USA: 8 Best National Parks for Hiking

Grand Canyon National Park | Richard I'Anson
Grand Canyon National Park | Richard I'Anson

The US has some of the most impressive national parks in the world, from the iconic Grand Canyon in Arizona to Volcanoes in Hawaii and, of course, Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California

These glorious natural wonderlands are home to breathtaking hiking trails, unique geological formations, native animals and sensational vistas.

But with more visitors heading to these wild places than ever, you’ll want to ensure your trip takes you far beyond the carpark, to places you can only get to by foot. Ahead, our favourite national parks in the US for hiking.


Yellowstone National Park |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone is the world’s first national park, and it remains one of the most popular for its hot springs, geysers and megafauna including bears, bison and elk! And sure, Old Faithful is worth a visit, but with over 3,468 square miles (8,983 square km) of natural beauty, there’s plenty more to see at Yellowstone than a crowd of tourists and a punctual geyser.

During the summer months, we love the Wapiti Lake Trail, which takes you away from the crowds and past waterfalls, lakes, and a phenomenal hydrothermal area. 

But in our humble opinion, winter in Yellowstone is even more magical – the trails are quiet, the animals are active and the geothermal energy contrasts spectacularly with the snow.


Grand Canyon National Park, USA |  <i>Sue Badyari</i>

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The Grand Canyon National Park needs no introduction – home to the world’s most famous valley, this Arizona landmark is totally worth the hype. 

While close to 5 million visitors flock to the Canyon each year, only 5% hike below the rim, and even fewer make it to the Colorado River, so lace up your hiking boots and explore one of the most incredible places on earth by foot to truly connect with this icon and truly understand why it is worthy of the name 'Grand'.

Be prepared, the hiking is hot and tough but well worth the effort.


Hiking in Zion National Park, Utah |  <i>©</i>

Zion National Park, Utah

Any trip to the American Southwest isn’t complete without exploring the extraordinary Zion National Park in Utah. 

A highlight is the hike to Angel’s Landing, an exhilirating ascent that’ll definitely keep you on your toes but is well worth it for the panoramic view at the top. 

Red rocks, deep canyons and natural arches abound in this dream hiking destination.


The unique hoodoos of Bryce Canyon |  <i>©</i>

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Considered by many to be North America’s most beautiful canyon, Bryce Canyon is a must-see destination for hikers and nature lovers alike. 

The spectacular park covers almost 40,000 acres, featuring colourful and unique rock formations called hoodoos, so vast and bright they’ll take your breath away.

The colour contrast between the red rocks, green of the pines and blue of the sky is truly a feast for the eyes.


Arches National Park, Utah |  <i>©</i>

Arches National Park, Utah

Another Utah gem is Arches National Park, home to over 2000 natural stone arches and the thousands of miles (or kms) of hiking trails that meander through them. 

These geological marvels have been forming for the past 65 million years and are still changing to this day. In 2008, one of the larger arches, Wall Arch, crumbled due to the constant erosion that shapes these masterpieces. 

Don’t miss Double Arch or Delicate Arch – two of our all-time faves!


View to Half Dome, Yosemite National Park |  <i>Nathaniel Wynne </i>

Yosemite National Park, California

If you loved the Oscar-winning climbing documentary, Free Solo, it’s time to put Yosemite on your bucket list, stat. 

This diverse national park in the Sierra Nevada mountains is home to some of Cali’s most spectacular vistas, hikes and climbs. 

The view from the summit of Half Dome is, quite honestly, a spiritual experience, but if you miss out on the lottery-based permit, there are loads of other incredible spots in the area to explore.


Hiking on a lava field on Hawaii's Big Island |  <i>Rachel Imber</i>

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

If you’re interested in geology, you won’t want to miss an opportunity to explore Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. 

Walk among active volcanoes to see islands in the making, check out the beauty and power of fresh lava as it erupts, and marvel at a unique and unfamiliar landscape that feels like another planet.

The park is also home to cultural sites of significance, and unique wildlife that have been forged on this evolutionary frontier.


Trekking the beautiful Denali National Park |  <i>Jake Hutchins</i>


Denali National Park, Alaska

The contiguous United States has many National Parks to occupy you for a lifetime, but for those seeking a more alpine experience it makes sense to look north, to Alaska, in particular Denali National Park.

Alaska is home to 17 of the highest mountains in the USA, with Denali being the biggest at 6190m. There aren't many trails in Denali, but the ones that do exist are usually void of people, and they are best enjoyed in the safety of an experienced guide.

The drive to the park is an experience in itself, with the first views of the mighty Alaska range reminiscent of scenes from the Indian Himalaya. Not to be missed.

Ready to explore the best National Parks in the USA?

United States, USA, National Parks, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Alaska

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