America’s national parks offer visitors inspiring and affordable ways to unplug and reconnect with nature. Although not every state has a national park, the National Park Service also oversees national monuments, national historic sites, and national rivers, among other areas. Some parks are iconic, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite, and others are underrated and lightly visited. This list highlights 50 must-see destinations — the best the country has to offer.
National parks often charge an entrance fee that grants seven days of access and costs up to $35 a vehicle. An interagency annual pass provides access to all the national parks and other federal fee areas for $80. Seniors 62 or older can buy a lifetime passes for $80 and annual passes for $20. Members of the military are eligible for free annual passes. Fee-free days also are offered occasionally during the year, including April 17, the first day of National Park Week; Aug. 4, the one-year anniversary of the Great Outdoors Act; Aug. 25, the birthday of the National Park Service; Sept. 25 for National Public Lands Day; and Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.
While most locations are open, there are various restrictions and some sites do remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So check before traveling. Visitors are also required to wear face masks in federal buildings.