Top National Parks to Visit in 2018

tiny island in St. Mary's lake in Glacier National Park

If National Parks are on your bucket list for the upcoming year, then look no further than our list of the Top National Parks to Visit in 2018! We’ve compiled some of our favorites. How many of them have you been to and how many are new to you?!

Mount Rainier National Park

Located in Washington state, this park is a lush and vast wilderness. Though the park is open year-round, we recommend going in the summer. Try to time your visit when the wildflowers are in bloom (typically in July and August), even better!

A river through Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park

Glacier National Park

The photograph below of Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park is almost hard to believe but if it isn’t enough to convince you to start planning a trip, I don’t know what is. You can except gorgeous landscapes, awesome hiking and (if you want it) isolation in the wilderness.

tiny island in St. Mary's lake in Glacier National Park
Wild Goose Island Viewpoint along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park

Badlands National Park

At 244,000 acres of awesome, The Badlands are anything but bad! It’s also the closest thing I’ve ever felt to being on the moon. If you’re wondering why it made our list of the Top National Parks to Visit in 2018 it’s because it’s not only unique but also the perfect excuse to visit South Dakota!

people hiking in the Badlands
Badlands National Park in South Dakota

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is one of my favorites. Always has been and always will be. There’s just something about the desert. And for those of you who love photography, the light in this park at sunrise and sunset (not to mention the number of stars at night!) is so unique that it should definitely be on your bucket list.

the moon on rocks in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park at first light.

Arches National Park

Did you know there are over 2,000 arches in this National Park? Aptly named, it’s one of the coolest places in the west. The park is busiest March through October but it’s open year-round. While you’re there be sure to hike up to Delicate Arch! (Take water with you.)

red rock landscape in Arches National Park
The famous Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Chances are you’ve trekked to Shenandoah at one time or another if you’re living in the eastern part of the United States. My favorite hike is Old Rag and is a must-do if you’re into adventuring on foot. The fall is a great time to go because the leaves change and the colors become simply spectacular!

orange and yellow leaves in Shenandoah National Park
Fall colors in Shenandoah National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Look closely at this picture. Can you see Caroline running in the background? This was one of the first national parks we ever visited together and it’s one of our favorites for obvious reasons: altitude, incredible vistas, amazing trail running and it’s relatively easy to get to from the east coast.

Caroline Whatley running in Rocky Mountain National Park
Colorado Trail Running in Rocky Mountain National Park

What do you think about our Top National Parks to Visit list?

Are any of these places included in your plans for the upcoming year? Which ones? We’d love to hear about your adventures, let’s us know what’s on tap in the comments below!

If you’re looking for a little travel inspiration, consider heading on over to our post about Books That Inspire Us to Travel.

Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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