Summer is finally here, which means it is time to start planning this year’s outdoor hiking and camping trips. And with over 400 national parks scattered across the United States, no summer would be complete without visiting at least one. Whether you are a solo camper or are looking for a great place to go backpacking with the whole family, there is a national park perfect for your next adventure. To make the choice a little easier, here are some of the most popular national parks across the U.S.

Zion National Park, UT

Zion National Park, located in Springdale, Utah, offers a thrilling hiking experience. The park’s most famous trail, known as The Narrows, is actually a river that winds through the base of the Zion Canyon. The 16-mile trail requires hikers to walk, wade, and swim through the Virgin River, making it the perfect adventure for hot summer days. Along the way, hikers will see waterfalls, stunning hanging gardens and thousand-foot walls. While this hike may be a blast for seasoned hikers, it is not suitable for the whole family. Because of the slippery terrain and moving current, this hike may not be safe for young children or beginner hikers. Walking sticks and trekking poles are also recommended to help maneuver the trail. Flash floods are common in The Narrows, so be sure to keep a close eye on the weather when planning this trip.

Acadia National Park, ME  

Located in Maine along the Atlantic Coastline, Acadia National Park offers high rocky headlands, amazing views, and activities suitable for the whole family. Bring the camper along for an extended stay, take a guided bicycle tour from one of the park rangers, or bring the family dog for a hike on one of Acadia’s many trails. For the little ones, Acadia National Park offers a variety of fun activities, including Acadia Quest. Acadia Quest allows the whole family to team up to explore, learn, and protect the national park through a series of unique activities. Acadia National Park is a great place to visit during the summer. However, due to limited parking, consider parking in a nearby lot or carpooling with friends.  

Yosemite National Park, CA  

Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the U.S., which makes it one of the most visited as well. Located in the Sierra Nevada, California, this park offers 1,200 square miles to explore. Hikers and campers can discover meadows, giant sequoias, deep valleys, and the park’s notorious waterfalls. Yosemite is also a well-known campsite, with over 13 camping grounds to choose from. Some campgrounds even have accommodations for horses during the summer, for an unforgettable hiking experience for the whole family. Described as having the “tranquility of the High Sierra,” you will definitely want to put this national park on your bucket list.  

Olympic National Park, WA  

Olympic National Park, which consists of nearly a million acres of land, features glacier-capped mountains, 70 miles of Washington’s coastline, and old-growth temperate rainforests. This park is a great place to hike, camp, backpack, or simply take in the awe-inspiring sights of the Pacific Northwest. There is an abundance of wildlife to see along the way, such as mountain goats, elk, Olympic Marmots, and more. At night, stay in the park to experience one of the amazing night sky programs like the Hurricane Ridge Astronomy Program. Because 95 percent of the park is void of human-caused light, it is the perfect place to gaze up at the stars like never before.

Which National Park Will You Choose?  

Whether you are looking to hike, camp, bike, or simply explore with your family for an afternoon, a National Park is the perfect destination for any road trip this summer. And don’t forget to schedule a visit for Aug. 25 in honor of the National Park System’s birthday. On Aug. 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson established the National Park Service, a new agency responsible for protecting 35 national parks. Every year on this date, national parks offer special deals and events to celebrate this century-old act. What will you do for the National Park Service’s 103rd birthday this year?

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