The United States has 63 national parks whose beauty and natural wonders attract more than 300 million visitors a year. If you’re ready to get out of the house after this long year stuck inside and throw on your hiking boots or pitch a tent under the stars, check out . Our list of the three best national parks for hiking and camping.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park includes 355 miles of hiking trails, 147 lakes and 118 peaks taller than 10,000 feet – all against a magnificent mountainous backdrop. Located just 70 miles outside of Denver, you can opt to visit for a day-hike (with several levels of difficulty to choose from) or stay a few nights and camp out in the backcountry in one of their 600 campsites. Be sure to check the RMNP website as some campgrounds require reservations or a permit.
Visiting from November through April is optimal (if you’re prepared for the weather) as crowds will be smaller, but no matter when you go, the dramatic landscapes and diverse wilderness offer an awe-inspiring experience you won’t soon forget.
2. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The 13,770 foot snow-capped Teton Mountains provide a majestic focal point at Grand Teton National Park. With pristine glacier-fed lakes, sprawling canyons, wildlife at every turn, and over 39 hikes that cover more than 200 miles of trails – Grand Teton National Park is a treasure for mountaineers and hikers of all levels. There are also seven campgrounds with more than 1,000 campsites that you can reserve in advance, as well as backcountry camping permits if you want to venture to the high country.
With something for virtually every age and ability, Grand Teton National Park is known to capture the imagination and heart of its visitors.
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
America’s most visited national park is known not only for its legendary mountains, but as one of the best national parks for animal lovers – especially those hoping to get a peek at a black bear! And with 150 trails covering more than 800 miles of terrain, it is world renowned as a premier hiking destination. Whether it be on the Appalachian Trail or hike to see the incredible flora and fauna, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has plenty to explore year-round.
There are 10 campgrounds in the Smoky National Park with more than 800 campsites for tents and RVs. There are also plenty of more secluded backcountry camping options. Just be sure to check the website before traveling as many require reservations. Whether you come for the day or stay a week, the wondrous beauty and wildlife of the Great Smoky Mountains will leave an indelible mark.
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