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10 Western US National Parks You MUST Visit for Your Road Trip Delight

Planning your next trip? Stop by one of these Western US national parks!

Join Must See Places as we embark on the ultimate adventure through the beautiful and vast landscapes of the Western US national parks. These natural wonders are a must-see if you’re planning a road trip.

From the towering peaks of the Rockies to the otherworldly vistas of Joshua Tree, each one promises a unique and extraordinary experience.

Explore the magnificence of the Grand Canyon, admire the ancient sequoias of Yosemite, and immerse yourself in the unspoiled wilderness of Yellowstone.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an avid hiker, or simply seeking comfort in the great outdoors, these national parks offer something for everyone.

Get ready to witness the raw beauty and untamed wilderness that make the following 10 Western US national parks a treasure trove of exploration and adventure.

So pack your bags, hit the road, and prepare for an unforgettable journey through some of America’s most incredible landscapes.

Western US National Park
Photo by Sean Xu at Shutterstock

Western US national park: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

This is one of the most colorful national parks, and a section of the Rocky Mountain range has been preserved as a national park.

This Western US National Park is the most popular and probably the most “packed,” although it’s not hard to escape others if you’re up for hiking and exploring the wilderness of the Rockies. But if you prefer day hikes to backcountry camping, stay in Estes Park.

It’s right next to the park, and you can stay in the famed…and haunted Stanley Hotel, which inspired The Shining!

Western US national park: Mesa Verde National Park, Arizona

The beautiful Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings tell an intriguing, if still rather mysterious, story of the people who once called this enormous mesa home.

The best way to experience these cliff dwellings is on a guided ranger hike. Be sure to check with the park for times and availability.

Western US national park: Redwood National Park, California

Redwood National Park is quite possibly the greenest on our list. Notable attractions like the drive-through Redwood Tree and a gondola ride among the Trees of Mystery will keep you busy when you’re not exploring places like Fern Canyon and Trillium Falls Trail.

And we recommend taking Howland Hill Road through the park to Crescent City to conclude your trip to the ocean.

Western US national park: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California

These two Western US national parks in California are home to the most enormous trees in the world. And while Redwoods is home to the tallest trees by height, Kings Canyon and Sequoia are the most massive trees by volume.

And you can visit some of them: the General Sherman Tree is the world’s largest. But others include the President, General Grant, and Lincoln.

Western US national park: Channel Islands National Park, California

The Channel Islands, composed of 5 separate islands, can be found in the remote waters west of Santa Barbara and Ventura and are the ideal day trip for anyone visiting the West Coast.

Plan on roaming a lot once you reach the islands because no other forms of transportation are available!

Once you’ve chosen which island you’d like to explore, you can take a ferry from Ventura or Santa Barbara and spend the day kayaking, diving, hiking, or snorkeling in the many kelp forests and sea caves.

Camping is also available on some islands, but you need a permit, so plan or spend your evenings in one of California’s gorgeous coastal towns. Another fantastic park in the area is Joshua Tree National Park.

You’ll love waking up to see the sunrise at the Cholla Cactus Garden, followed by a few strolls among the spiky Joshua Trees and giant boulders. And let’s not forget that stargazing is pretty incredible there!

Western US National Park
Photo by iacomino FRiMAGES at Shutterstock

Western US national park: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

One of America’s most well-known natural wonders, the Grand Canyon is a MUST-SEE for every traveler. Thrill seekers can go whitewater rafting on the Colorado River or go on a helicopter ride over the Canyon for an incredible 360-degree aerial view.

The turquoise-water Havasu Falls is a hidden gem for hikers willing to trek out to the secluded waterfall, but well worth the time it will take you to get out there.

Havasu is a popular destination for summer tourists, so we recommend planning your trip during the fall if you can. Our favorite viewing points? Desert View, Mather Point, Yavapai Point, and Moran Point.

And since you’re already in the area, you should visit Petrified Forest National Park. While many National Parks have exceptional geology, Petrified Forest has something unique: trees that have turned to stone!

Besides walking among the Giant Logs and in the Crystal Forest, Petrified Forest is home to other intriguing geological features and is part of the Painted Desert.

Western US national park: Yosemite National Park, California

If you’re daring enough to try the unforgettable Half Dome hike, be prepared for a full day of hiking! This 20-mile trek will likely take you about 12-14 hours roundtrip and mandates a permit, but the rewarding picturesque views from the peak are unmatched.

The multiple hikes and mini-hikes to numerous waterfalls make this an ideal park for families because many trails are stroller accessible and easy enough for kids to tag along.

The soaring giant sequoias, that are literally thousands of years old, and fields of beautiful wildflowers in the off-seasons make for the most amazing backdrop for your family getaway photos.

Western US national park: Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Did you know Denali National Park was founded while Alaska was still a territory? It was established in 1916, more than 40 years before Statehood! This national park is the crown jewel of all the National Park units in this state. It draws in millions of visitors annually.

The park is over 6 million acres but, interestingly, only has one road. The only way to access the park is by taking an NPS bus into the park, which is one of three tour options.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see Denali, the tallest mountain on the North American continent and the park’s namesake. Don’t forget to watch for Denali’s Big Five animals: wolf, moose, bear, caribou, and Dall sheep.

Western US national park: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone is one of our country’s most famous national parks, with almost 3.5 million visitors annually. The rainbow-colored hot springs and old Faithful are just a few of Yellowstone’s unique features.

But be sure you don’t miss the lesser-known Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The view of this canyon and Yellowstone Falls is unbelievable.

If you have yet to see the Rockies, this is definitely a trip you MUST take at least once in your lifetime. Just don’t forget to pack a pair of comfortable hiking shoes!

Western US National Park
Photo by lembi at Shutterstock

Western US national park: Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, Alaska

Like Denali, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is one of Alaska’s most popular parks–partly because many cruise companies make it a stop on their itineraries. Blanketing 3.3 million acres, Glacier Bay is essentially land that’s only accessible by water.

This means you can only access it by boat or plane. But you can book day tours from Sitka or Juneau if you’re not on a multi-day Alaskan cruise.

Well folks, what did you think of our favorite Western US national parks? Have you been to any of them? And if you have, be sure to share your thoughts about them with our readers in the comments section.

If you like this post, Must See Places has many more like it. For instance, we think you’ll also like: American West Road Trips: 8 Stunning Sights You Must-See

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