00
Shares

100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks

11.03.17

Start Exploring
100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
00

Shares

Advertisement
  • El Capitan towers above the trees along Northside Drive, Yosemite National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Top of the cables on Half Dome's summit, Yosemite National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The second drop and rappel point in Tenaya's boulder-lined slot canyon surmounting Leconte Boulder, Yosemite National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Tuolumne Meadows high country, Yosemite National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Upper Cathedral Lake with Tresidder Peak (10,605 ft) rising above, Yosemite National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Rae Lakes region, Kings Canyon National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • View of Columbine Lake after dropping over Sawtooth Pass, Sequoia National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Gradual terrain leads up through a gully en route to Lassen Peak's north ridge, Lassen Volcanic National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Mount Diller's summit ridge with Mount Shasta (14,197 ft) in view, Lassen Volcanic National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Arch Rock Nature Trail in Joshua Tree National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Views from the Watchman Lookout Tower are unbeatable, Crater Lake National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Contributor Josh Lupkin looking down before descending back to Snow Lake.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Ladder bridge above the Cleaver, Mount Rainier National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Sams River Loop Trail, Olympic National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The High Divide Trail, Olympic National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Fog in the forest, Olympic National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Long downhill on the Trans-Zion Trek, Zion National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The Subway, Zion National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Emerald green water shows the deeper parts of the Virgin River as it flows through Zion National Park. - 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Rock windows like this one are formed by annual freeze and thaw cycles, Bryce Canyon National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Hiking back along the ridge, the views are still great.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The trail junction. Chasm Lake Trail follows southeast, the Boulders Trail up to Longs Peak spurs west, Rocky Mountain National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Rock trails on the dried mud of the Racetrack.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • A view of Kings Creek Falls in Lassen Volcanic National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Crater Lake from the lodge trailhead to Garfield Peak.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) and Paradise Park from the Skyline Trail.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • View toward Crying Lady Rock and the Quillayute Needles from La Push, Second Beach.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Climbing up Moro Rock's stairway.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Boston Basin filled with clouds from Forbidden Peak.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Thornton Lakes and Mount Triumph (7,240 ft).- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Climber on Intersection Rock's north face in Joshua Tree National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Rugged granite ridges rise above Pear Lake in Sequoia National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Alternate view from Angels Landing in Zion National Park. - 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Cold, deep pools fill many parts of Pine Creek Canyon in Zion National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Standing at the top of the first steep pitch of North Guardian Angel.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Looking down Park Avenue from the trailhead.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Westward view out of the North Window at daybreak in Arches National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Spectacular views from the granaries at Aztec Butte.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • No better place for after-dinner drinks or morning coffee the the Grand Canyon Lodge.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Fishing below Granite Rapid in Grand Canyon National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Lake Haiyaha, Rocky Mountain National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Gem Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The Pinnacles stretch across the entire trail in Crater Lake National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The incredible colors and contrasts of Crater Lake come alive from the summit of Wizard Island.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Upper Cathedral Valley.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The canyon walls inch closer as hikers approach The Narrows in Zion National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Into Cohab Canyon.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Bradley Lake, Grand Teton National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Chief's Head Peak above Lion Lake 1.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Havasu Falls from the overlook on the trail.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Fortynine Palms Oasis in the Fortynine Palms Canyon.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Sierra sunset above Cyclamen and Spring Lakes.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The massive granite Watchtower overlooks the falls and upper Tokopah Valley.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Iconic pinnacles on the Moses Spring Trail.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Views on the approach to Vogelsang Peak.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Tenaya Lake.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Matthes Crest.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Mosaic Canyon Trail, Death Valley National Park.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Moraine and Meany Crest (7,573 ft) between Summerland and Panhandle Gap.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) from the Sunrise Rim Trail.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Trail leading up to the first Burrough with Curtis Ridge and the Willis Wall dominating the view.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Sunset view of Unicorn Peak (6,971 ft) from Gobblers Knob.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Touring up the west side of Edith Basin as the sun rises over the Tatoosh Range.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • The entirety of the Anderson Massif from the southern ridgeline.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Ruby Beach.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Tivoli Island reflected in the water of Ozette Lake.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Wildflowers on the trail to Obstruction Point.- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
  • Light putting on a show as it dances in the mist of Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park..- 100 Incredible Adventures in Our National Parks
Article
Team

The National Parks Service was created by Congress on August 25, 1916, 44 years after Ulysses S. Grant signed the law making Yellowstone America's first national park. Part of the Department of the Interior, the mandate of the National Parks Service is to protect areas under management while facilitating public experiences of these areas, a balancing act indeed.

We can all agree that national parks can be a bit crowded during the summer months, and there's no doubt they will be crowded this summer, but with 84 million acres, there must be ways to avoid the crowds. We have a few ideas...

Get Off the Main Roads 

Though some of a park's iconic viewpoints and overlooks are often steps from the parking lot, don't let this be your only experience of the national parks. You can find awesome 4-mile side trails or hike 20+ miles into pure solitude. Sure, it takes a little more work, but we promise the reward will be worth it. Just take a look at the Tenaya Canyon Descent, the Trans-Zion Trek, or these 3 Incredible Wilderness Trips in Olympic National Park.

Explore Beyond the "Heart" of the Park 

The "heart" can be described in two different ways: it may be where a visitor center is located, or it may be the area with the most adventures grouped together. Either way, this is obviously going to be one of the busiest places and home to some of the park's most popular sites. We don't suggest skipping the "heart," but we do want to encourage you to not skip the rest of the park. Often there are less traveled and equally beautiful trails and campgrounds in the far corners of the park. If you do want to explore a central location, trade your car for a bike

Start Early 

Get up before the sun and chances are you'll be up before a number of the other park visitors. Start your adventures early to get a stretch of trail and a beautiful sunrise to yourself in the morning. Many of the popular trails are well-maintained and can easily be hiked with a head lamp, just be careful when starting an adventure in the dark. 

Visit the Less-Visited National Parks

If you want to travel in the summer months, try a road less traveled. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park, hosting nearly 70 million visitors in 2014. If you laid those visitors head to foot, they would stretch from Canada to Mexico 315 times! No wonder it feels busy. Alaska is home to many of these least-visited parks, some of which are only accessible by snowmobile or dog sled. 

Visit in the Off-Season

Before Memorial Day and after Labor Day the visitors tend to thin out, making the popular areas of the park less crowded and campsite reservations easier to come by. You can also find off-season rates at some of the beautiful historic lodges. Access to certain areas may be limited due to snow, which may mean they are perfectly suited for snowshoeing, backcountry and cross-country skiing, and even winter camping. Wouldn't it be nice to have a sunrise to yourself at Crater Lake? Or find fresh turns at Lassen?

Mark your calendar for the fee free days in 2017: 

  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 24: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

In no particular order, here are 100 awesome adventures from the national parks in the West that will really show you why these places are some of America's gems. 

  1. Half Dome Hike: Yosemite National Park
  2. Tenaya Canyon Descent: Yosemite National Park
  3. Tenaya Lake: Yosemite National Park
  4. Yosemite Falls: Yosemite National Park
  5. Yosemite Valley Bicycle Loop: Yosemite National Park
  6. Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley via Vogelsang Camp: Yosemite National Park
  7. Cathedral Lakes Trail: Yosemite National Park
  8. Matthes Crest Traverse: Yosemite National Park
  9. Vogelsang Peak: Yosemite National Park
  10. Rae Lakes Loop: Kings Canyon National Park
  11. Columbine Lake: Sequoia National Park
  12. Pear Lake Hut: Sequoia National Park
  13. Moro Rock: Sequoia National Park 
  14. Giant Forest: Sequoia National Park
  15. Glacier Pass, Sawtooth Pass + Big Five Lakes Loop: Sequoia National Park
  16. Tokopah Valley: Sequoia National Park
  17. Ubehebe Crater: Death Valley National Park
  18. Devil's Golf Course: Death Valley National Park
  19. The Racetrack: Death Valley National Park
  20. Mosaic Canyon Trail: Death Valley National Park
  21. Cholla Cactus Garden: Joshua Tree National Park
  22. Intersection Rock Climbing Crag: Joshua Tree National Park 
  23. Arch Rock Nature Trail: Joshua Tree National Park
  24. Fortynine Palms Oasis: Joshua Tree National Park
  25. Lassen Peak, North Ridge Shoulder Backcountry Ski: Lassen Volcanic National Park
  26. Lassen Peak: Lassen Volcanic National Park
  27. Kings Creek Falls: Lassen Volcanic National Park
  28. Mount Diller: Lassen Volcanic National Park
  29. Tall Trees Grove: Redwoods National and State Parks
  30. Moses Springs Trail: Pinnacles National Park
  31. The Watchman Snowshoe: Crater Lake National Park
  32. Garfield Peak: Crater Lake National Park
  33. Wizard Island Summit: Crater Lake National Park
  34. The Pinnacles: Crater Lake National Park
  35. Unicorn Peak via Snow Lake: Mount Rainier National Park 
  36. Disappointment Cleaver: Mount Rainier National Park
  37. Skyline Trail: Mount Rainier National Park
  38. Paradise Park, Myrtle Falls: Mount Rainier National Park
  39. Edith Creek Basin: Mount Rainier National Park
  40. Gobblers Knob + Lake George: Mount Rainier National Park
  41. Burroughs Mountain: Mount Rainier National Park
  42. Sunrise Rim Trail: Mount Rainier National Park
  43. Summerland + Panhandle Gap: Mount Rainier National Park
  44. Sam's River Loop: Olympic National Park
  45. Hoh to Sol Duc via High Divide Trail: Olympic National Park
  46. La Push, Second Beach: Olympic National Park
  47. Wolf Creek Trail: Olympic National Park
  48. Sol Duc Falls: Olympic National Park
  49. Obstruction Point: Olympic National Park
  50. Ozette Lake: Olympic National Park
  51. Ruby Beach: Olympic National Park
  52. Anderson Glacier: Olympic National Park
  53. Forbidden Peak, West Ridge: North Cascades National Park 
  54. Thornton Lakes Trail + Trappers Peak: North Cascades National Park 
  55. Trans-Zion Trek: Zion National Park
  56. Angels Landing: Zion National Park
  57. North Guardian Angel Climb: Zion National Park
  58. Lower Subway: Zion National Park
  59. The Narrows: Zion National Park
  60. Pine Creek Canyoneering: Zion National Park 
  61. Fairyland Loop: Bryce Canyon National Park 
  62. Bryce Canyon Rim Trial: Bryce Canyon National Park 
  63. Inspiration Point: Bryce Canyon National Park 
  64. Delicate Arch: Arches National Park
  65. The Windows Loop: Arches National Park 
  66. Park Avenue Hike: Arches National Park 
  67. False Kiva: Canyonlands National Park
  68. Aztec Butte: Canyonlands National Park
  69. Cohab Canyon: Capitol Reef National Park
  70. Grand Wash Trail to the Narrows: Capitol Reef National Park
  71. Cathedral Valley: Capitol Reef National Park
  72. South Kaibab + Bright Angel Trails: Grand Canyon National Park 
  73. Grand Canyon of the Colorado River: Grand Canyon National Park 
  74. Grand Canyon Lodge, North Rim: Grand Canyon National Park 
  75. Havasu Falls via Havasupai Trail: Grand Canyon National Park 
  76. Granite Rapid Camp: Grand Canyon National Park 
  77. Mooney + Beaver Falls: Grand Canyon National Park
  78. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
  79. Nymph, Dream + Emerald Lakes: Rocky Mountain National Park 
  80. Chasm Lake: Rocky Mountain National Park
  81. Ute Trail to Timberline Pass: Rocky Mountain National Park 
  82. Lake Haiyaha: Rocky Mountain National Park 
  83. Gem Lake via Lumpy Ridge Trailhead: Rocky Mountain National Park 
  84. Lion Lakes: Rocky Mountain National Park
  85. Cliff Palace: Mesa Verde National Park
  86. Taggart + Bradley Lakes: Grand Teton National Park
  87. Visit San Juan Islands National Historical Park in the San Juan Islands
  88. Paulina Peak: Newberry National Volcanic Monument
  89. Sand dunes at White Sands National Monument
  90. Monitor Ridge: Mount St. Helen's National Monument
  91. Ocean views at Cabrillo National Monument
  92. Walking with Redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument
  93. The Wave: Vermilion Cliffs National Monument 
  94. Timpanogos Cave National Monument
  95. Devil's Postpile National Monument
  96. Lava Beds National Monument
  97. Canyon De Chelly National Monument
  98. Sunset View: Cedar Breaks National Monument
  99. Devil's Garden: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
  100. Painted Hills: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Advertisement
Comments

Comments

Published By

Published by

Team
135 Adventures Explored
78 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info