From sea to shining sea, our nation is packed with unforgettable, beautiful, and important sites from the National Park Service.
From golden sand dunes to hardwood forests, from historic sites and iconic monuments to the winding trails that crisscross the United States, our National Park Service has ensured that every state in the nation has at least a sliver (or a generous wedge) of their most cherished places. Those in search of solitude will find it while wandering deep into the glaciated peaks and jungles of Olympic National Park, while rock climbers from around the world will challenge themselves on one of many world-class routes up the 3,000-feet of vertical on El Capitan in Yosemite. History buffs and those curious about the country’s past walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, which shaped the United States into the nation as we know it.
This year, the National Park Service celebrates its centennial year—that’s 100 years of caring for the most sacred stretches of land from California to the Eastern Seaboard. And you don’t even have to step outside of your home state to experience something the Service has worked to recognize and protect. You can spend a night under an expansive sky of stars in Wyoming, or between mountains as old as the earth itself rising from Montana like the country’s great, curved spine.
Not everything under the National Park Service’s purview is a park—not in the way we think of Yosemite or Crater Lake. But every expanse of wilderness, every heritage site, and every meandering trail has helped define the country’s character.
But the best part about the diversity of the 411 areas in the National Park Service network is that you don’t have to be an experienced backpacker or canyoneer to appreciate them. Absolutely anyone in the world can visit one a national park or site, whether you’re on a multi-generational family trip or you’re seeking a romantic getaway with your significant other.
Our favorite National Park (or National Park Service site) in every state is just a curated sample of the hundreds of other worthwhile destinations in the United States. And the guardians of these lands and memorials know that no matter how small or little known, every last inch of the 84 million acres they surveil is as important as the Grand Canyon.