21 Must See National Parks in 2021
If you’re looking for the most epic National Parks in 2021, you’ve come to the right spot! Today we’re diving deep into the best that America has to offer.
Trust us, we love each and every National Park. But, we understand time is limited and visiting them all in a year is almost impossible. That’s why we created this list.
Additionally, we’ve included the best campgrounds at each of these parks!
From California to Florida, these twenty sites will surly be a good time. Even if you don’t have an RV, it’s worth renting one to experience these amazing places.
Let’s dive in!
#21 White Sands
Location: Near Alamogordo, New Mexico
Why You’ll Love It: Though White Sands is relatively remote, there are plenty of things to keep you occupied. One of our favorite things to do when we visit is a backcountry camp.
There are only ten permits available each day to camp out between the dunes, but the experience is unlike any other. Beautiful sunsets spread out around the mountains and above white, crystal-like dunes. To us, White Sands is the reason why New Mexico’s slogan is “The Land of Enchantment” because you’ll feel the magic in just one night under the stars.
Best Campground Nearby: Aguirre Spring Campground: Located right up against the Organ Mountains, Aguirre Spring Campground is home to 55 campsites. Camping fees are $7 per campsite per night and everything is first-come, first-serve. Water is only available at the entrance so be sure to fill up as you come into the campground.
National Park Vibes: Stargazing for days!
#20 Sequoia National Park
Location: Tulare County, California
Why You’ll Love It: Sequoia National Park is home to the largest tree (by volume) on earth! We think that’s pretty cool…especially for the kids. It’s a very family friendly park. Wide paved trails make it easy for groups and strollers to enjoy the area.
The Giant Forest Museum is great for learning about the history and vegetation in Sequoia.
For the more active hikers, you can trek up the 400 step stairway to Moro Rock.
Best Campground Nearby: Stoney Creek Campground is a great option inside the National Forest. If those sites are full, we recommend Horse Creek Campground – a COE site south of the main Sequoia National Park entrance!
National Park Vibes: Fun landmarks, but not a destination for an entire vacation. It’s a great two-day stop!
#19 Olympic National Park
Location: Near Port Angeles, Washington
Why You’ll Love It: The Olympic National offers an amazingly diverse landscape. From the peak of Mount Olympus to the foggy sea stacks of the Pacific coast, there is so much to see & learn.
In between those two extremes is the Hoh rainforest. It’s home to magical hiking trails that weave around huge trees and vibrant ferns.
Popular activities at Olympic National Park include skiing, rafting, hiking and boating.
Best Campground Nearby: If you want to camp inside the park, Graves Creek Campground is a great option. It’s located in the Quinault Rainforest. However, RVs aren’t allowed.
If you’re in an RV, we recommend Rain Forest Resort Village on Lake Quinault.
National Park Vibes: One of the most diverse National Park in America. The Olympic Peninsula will keep you entertained for an entire vacation!
#18 Everglades National Park
Location: Miami-Dade County area, Florida
Why You’ll Love It: The ecosystem at Everglades National Park is the main attraction. It’s a network of wetlands and forests and acts as the primary breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America.
You’ll find many unique hiking trails in this park. The Anhinga Trail is only half a mile long, but on this self-guided hike you’re apt to see alligators, marsh birds, turtles, and bromeliads.
If you’re wanting to see amazing land formations, Everglades National Park might not be for you. However, for those wanting to see amazing wildlife in their natural habitat, this is a must-see!
Best Campground Nearby: Long Pine Key Campground is the best basecamp in the area. The prices are good and you’ll be in a central location for National Park activities. If you’re up for adventure, try out Flamingo Campground. It’s 40 miles deep into the NP, with little to no cell connectivity!
National Park Vibes: Wildlife abounds at Everglades National Park!
#17 Death Valley National Park
Location: California & Nevada border
Why You’ll Love It: Death Valley National Park is extreme! If you’re into off-roading, you’ll love this place. This eastern California desert ranks among the hottest places in the world – comparable to the Arabian Desert in the Middle East. The valley also marks the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.
Despite its harsh climate & terrain, if you plan your trip appropriately, you’ll be able to discover all the hidden wonders of this epic National Park. Based on the temp chart below, we think January, February, March, April, November & December are ideal months to visit Death Valley.
In addition to the off road and hiking trails, the area is known for date farms and natural hot springs.
Best Campground Nearby: We think the best campground in the area is Tecopa Hot Springs Resort. They have natural hot spring tubs onsite and provide limited RV hookup sites. You’ll also be positioned near all the National Park attractions.
National Park Vibes: Vast & hot, but well worth a visit!
#16 Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Location: North Carolina & Tennessee Smoky Mountain Range
Why You’ll Love It: If you can’t make it out west, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the best on the east coast. In fact, it’s the most visited national park in the USA.
We love it for two reasons. Firstly, the hiking trails are absolutely amazing. You’ll see mountain top landscapes and forested hills. The elevation changes might wear you out, but there are trails for every skill level.
Secondly, we love that there are wonderful communities surrounding the National Park. From tourist towns (like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge) to hidden gems (like Wears Valley and Bryson City), you’ll be able to explore unique restaurants and antique shops.
Best Campground Nearby: We actually have a comprehensive list of the Best Smoky Mountain Campgrounds. If we had to choose just one, it would be the Greenbrier Campground. This spot will give you all the best vibes.
National Park Vibes: Small towns & and great hikes!
#15 Hot Springs National Park
Location: Hot Springs, Arkansas
Why You’ll Love It: Hot Springs National Park is like no other. Rather than focusing on nature or wildlife, this park is all about preserving history. In the 1800s the local hot springs were used for their healing qualities, specifically fighting illnesses such as tuberculosis.
The bath houses look like primitive spas (resembling torture chambers at times). You can still use the original equipment for a private soaking…or take a hot springs bath in a modern spa.
There are great hiking trails in the park as well. The Gulpha Gorge Trail runs from the main campground to the center of downtown.
Best Campground Nearby: Gulpha Gorge Campground is awesome! It’s the main National Park camping area and provides full hook ups at every site. If its full, check out Catherine’s Landing.
National Park Vibes: Hot Spring soakin’ & brewery drinkin’.
#14 Crater Lake National Park
Location: Klamath County, Oregon
Why You’ll Love It: Crater Lake is absolutely gorgeous. This volcanic lake is 1,949 feet deep at its deepest point, which makes it the deepest lake in the United States. National Park visitors can get epic views at Rim Village and along the Rim Trail.
Winters at Crater Lake can be harsh, street closures are almost guaranteed. However, if you brave the cold trip, views of the lake will be worth the effort. Needless to say, summer is probably the best time of year to visit.
The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the park as well!
Best Campground Nearby: Mazama Campground is the best option for being close to the action. It’s a must-visit if you’re a hiker or biker. If you’re in a large RV, it may be challenging to access.
National Park Vibes: Epic views like no other in America!
#13 Redwood National Park
Location: Northern California Coast
Why You’ll Love It: Even though Sequoia National Park has the largest single tree in the USA, the Redwoods are far more amazing. The forest is full of massive redwood trees shooting up towards the sky.
Hiking trails are plentiful. In fact, these trails are among the quietest trails we’ve hiked. There’s a reverence observed by all whom are in the presence of these trees.
Children & adults will enjoy the majesty of this National Park.
Best Campground Nearby: We think Ramblin’ Redwoods Campground is the best place to camp. They can accommodate RVs & tents. Additionally, they offer cabins for rent. Even though the campground isn’t in the National Park, its central location makes it easy to access the trails and nearby shopping.
National Park Vibes: Breath taking forest that must be visited!
#12 Grand Canyon National Park
Location: Coconino and Mohave counties, Arizona
Why You’ll Love It: The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic National Parks in America. No matter your age or physical activity level, this park can be enjoyed by all.
The main Welcome Center offers magnificent views of the canyon. From there, you can access hiking trails along the rim. Guided tours abound, as well! You can view the area by way of helicopter, donkey and Segway!
The National Park is also home to the Grand Canyon Village. It offers rustic lodging, dinning and shopping options.
Best Campground Nearby: If you’re looking for an authentic Grand Canyon experience, Mather Campground is your best bet. The campsites don’t offer full RV hookups, but you do get a healthy does of nature and wildlife.
National Park Vibes: Classic American road trip!
#11 Joshua Tree National Park
Location: Joshua Tree, California
Why You’ll Love It: The Joshua Tree is one of the most unique trees in North America and this National Park is the place to see them. The desert terrain is also full of huge rock formations. You can hike, camp and off-road through out the area.
Joshua Tree NP is a great weekend getaway from the large cities in southern California. While we think you’ll love this park, you can probably get a good feel for it in just a few days.
Best Campground Nearby: We have a complete Joshua Tree Camping Guide. Of all the sites we mention, Jumbo Rocks Campground has the best views!
National Park Vibes: California desert vibes with a strange tree!
#10 Grand Teton National Park
Location: Near Jackson, Wyoming
Why You’ll Love It: Whether you love hiking, water sports or enjoying a mountain view, Grand Teton National Park is the place to visit. The part offers hikes of all skill levels, so even with kids or older relatives, you’ll be able to explore by foot. For the more advanced outdoor enthusiast, mountaineering is a popular activity on site.
You can rent a boat or take a guided tour on Jenny Lake. The views at the lake are awesome!
Best Campground Nearby: There are many great campgrounds within the bounds of the National Park. We like another option though…boondocking across the street in the Bridger-Teton Forest gives you epic views and is absolutely free!
National Park Vibes: Mountain hikes & boat rides!
#9 Big Bend National Park
Location: West Texas, bordering Mexico
Why You’ll Love It: Big Bend is an extremely remote national parks with lots of geological features. You may find sea fossils, dinosaur bones and volcano dikes at the park.
Additionally, the park is host to many amazing land formations. The Rio Grande River flows on its western most border. Emory Peak, the highest point in the park, is over 7,000 feet above sea level and is a wonderful observation point.
Whether you want to hike, bike, drive, climb or off road, Big Bend offers a great experience.
Best Campground Nearby: We think Chisos Basin Campground is the best spot for being immersed in the park. You probably won’t get great cell connectivity, but you’ll get a true Big Bend experience. Ideal for tent & truck campers.
National Park Vibes: Huge park with diverse experiences.
#8 Rocky Mountain National Park
Location: Northwest of Denver, Colorado
Why You’ll Love It: If you love the mountains (like we do), this is a must-see national park. However, you may want to be prepared for altitude sickness. The Rocky Mountain National Park site between 7,000 and 14,000 feet above sea level.
There are many ways to experience the park. Our favorite two ways are through the epic hiking trails and the scenic drives. The Trail Ridge Road winds through the park and lets you see all the best sites without hiking. Keep in mind, this road is closed during the winter months and may not open until late spring.
The hikes are awesome too! They have trails from easy to hard – so, no matter your skill level, you can enjoy getting out into nature. Emerald Lake Trail, Gem Lake Trail and Albert Falls Trails are among the most popular hikes in the area.
Best Campground Nearby: Moraine Park Campground is the best campsite inside the park boundary. It can accommodate RVs, tents, vans and trucks. This campground gives you nearby access to great hiking trails.
National Park Vibes: Super high altitude & great views.
#7 Shenandoah National Park
Location: Virginia, USA
Why You’ll Love It: This is another awesome east coast National Park. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah is all about forest wilderness.
The park is best known for Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that runs the length of the park along the ridge of the mountains. This drive will show you all the best view points. It perfect for folks who have limited hiking ability. It’s also great for motorcycle trips!
101 miles of the Appalachian Trail are also in the park. In fact, the park has over 500 miles of hiking trails.
If camping is your thing, the park offers many options. You can camp in the back country, at established campgrounds and in lodges & cabins.
Best Campground Nearby: If you can snag a site, we recommend Big Meadows Campground. It will get you near all the best hikes and activities. It’s also close to the lodge. Ideal for RVs & tents.
National Park Vibes: Awesome East Coast Park
#6 Arches National Park
Location: Moab, Utah
Why You’ll Love It: Aches National Park feels like you’re on another planet! It’s our absolute favorite park for hiking. The numerous trails wind through huge rock formations and overlook the strange terrain.
Biking and off-roading are also huge activities at Arches National Park. And, once you get your share of land-based experiences, you can float down the Colorado River.
Arches has such a large range of activities. It’s perfect for families and extreme sport fans alike!
National Park Vibes: Unlike any other National Park & activities for all.
#5 Acadia National Park
Location: Near Bar Harbor, Maine
Why You’ll Love It: This coastal National Park is a wonderful destination for everyone, especially folks who live on the East Coast! As per Wikipedia, “the park includes mountains, an ocean coastline, coniferous and deciduous woodlands, lakes, ponds, and wetlands encompassing a total of 49,075 acres.”
Acadia also acts as one of the two trail heads of the Appalachian Trail. If hiking isn’t your thing, Park Loop Road is a 27 mile driving trail with many scenic view points.
Winter activities include hiking on trails using snowshoes, or traction footwear, and trekking poles, cross-country skiing on carriage roads, snowmobiling on the paved loop road, and ice fishing on frozen ponds and lakes. – Wikipedia
Best Campground Nearby: Blackwoods Campground is by far the best National Park campsite! There are multiple trails that connect to the campground and you’re just a short distance to the Atlantic Ocean coast.
National Park Vibes: Rocky shores and forest hikes.
#4 Yosemite National Park
Location: Western Sierra Nevada of Central California
Why You’ll Love It: Yosemite National Park is another American classic! Whether you’re into hiking, climbing, or watching wildlife – you can do it all at Yosemite.
The views throughout the park are absolutely amazing. The central visitor center is full of history and geological info. And, the lodging accommodations onsite are awesome. Yosemite offers tent & RV sites, glamping yurts, cabins and back country camping.
The key points of interest includes Half Dome, El Capitan, Tuolumne Grove, Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall.
Best Campground Nearby: If you’re into free camping, we created acomplete guide to the best free campsites near Yosemite. However, the best campsite at Yosemite is North Pines Campground. It’ll position you in the heart of Yosemite Valley, making it the perfect basecamp.
National Park Vibes: Classic American Vacation!
#3 Glacier National Park
Location: Northern Montana, USA
Why You’ll Love It: Glacier National Park is a true beauty. From the scenic driving trails winding up the mountains to the water activities on Lake McDonald, there are cativities for all ages at Glacier.
One of our favorite, family friendly activities is the unique driving tours. A fleet of restored 1930s White Motor Company coaches, called Red Jammers, offer tours on all the main roads in the park. The drivers of the buses are called “Jammers”, due to the gear-jamming that formerly occurred during the vehicles’ operation.
Going to the Sun road is another amazing day-trip. The road leads you to Logan Pass where you can admire the epic, glacial landscapes. There’s also a visitors center at the pass.
Hiking is another popular activity at Glacier. Trails of all skill levels make it easy to enjoy the park as a family.
Best Campground Nearby: If you’re looking for the most immersive experience we recommend Many Glacier Campground. This site will position you to many of the key activities and give you the best nature vibes!
National Park Vibes: Check it out before it melts!
#2 Yellowstone National Park
Location: Northwest, Wyoming
Why You’ll Love It: Yellowstone is home to so many amazing geological features! Not to mention, it’s been an American vacation destination for 100 years.
Old Faithful Geyser is the main event at Yellowstone. However, there’s so many amazing attractions beyond the iconic geyser. Here’s a few we love:
- Grand Prismatic Spring
- Yellowstone Caldera
- Yellowstone Lake
- Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
- Hayden Valley
- Mammoth Hot Springs
- The numerous waterfalls of Yellowstone
Keep in mind, this is a busy park! Be prepared to wait in lines at the most popular spots.
Best Campground Nearby: There are many great camping options at Yellowstone. However, due to the amount of people visiting, the campgrounds inside the National Park stay busy and booked up.
We recommend free-camping outside of the park. These sites are much less busy and are free! Snake River Boondocking was a great basecamp for us during our stay.
National Park Vibes: Geological wonders!
#1 Zion National Park
Location: Southwest, Utah
Why You’ll Love It: If you can only visit one National Park in 2020, we think Zion offers the most bang for your buck! The scenery is amazing and the activities are even better.
From Angels Landing to The Subway Trail, the hikes at Zion are among the best in the USA. Even their hikes rated “easy” offer great views. The Pa’rus Trail is a paved path that begins at the visitors center and weaves through the valley. Dog are even allowed on that one!
Best Campground Nearby: Watchman Campground is the best place to set up camp. It’s so close to all the action that you won’t need to drive anywhere. The views are also amazing!
National Park Vibes: Scenic hikes with awesome camping!
Trip Routing to The Best National Parks
Trip planning to America’s National Parks is essential. The west is known for its terrifying mountain passes. The east is known for massive tolls and low hanging bridges.
With RV Trip Wizard you can get a much better understanding on what to expect for travel day. After spending a big amount of money on an RV, you don’t want to run into a low hanging bridge!
We use RV Trip Wizard to route our cross country trips. With tools like budgeting, fuel planning, and avoiding bridges, we can easily travel safely through the USA.
You can also avoid steep passes, tolls and tunnels when you select the appropriate filters. Give RV Trip Wizard a try!
The Best FREE Camping in the USA
We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.
If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.