Green Ninja and EveryPark are pleased to provide profiles for every US national park. All 58 units are represented here. We plan to continually update this park information as a service to the community.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park in Maine is mostly located on Mount Desert Island, which is separated from the mainland by a small strait. Unlike many of the other national parks, the entire island is not protected, so there are towns, houses, and businesses on the island. This actually makes for a richer experience than just enjoying Acadia's natural treasures.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park in Utah protects sandstone arches carved by wind and water. The arches are the signature attraction of the park, with many being easily accessible from the park road or hiking trails. Arches also preserves many arches in its out of the way back country.

Slot canyons are another unique feature of Arches National Park. Rangers guide hikes through the Fiery Furnace area of the park, explaining the geologic features. There are some tight squeezes on this hike.

Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park in South Dakota captures the eroded beauty of the South Dakota plains. The badlands are at their least impressive in the harsh overhead summer sun when most visitors come to Badlands National Park. The prairie thunderstorms that roll through the Great Plains give the bluffs an amazing palette of changing colors. At sunset or sunrise, the subtle gradations reveal themselves, and the animals emerge from hiding.

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is located in one of the most remote corners of Texas, and has one of the most rugged landscapes in the Southwest. The Rio Grande river runs through several beautiful canyons, including Santa Elena Canyon and Mariscal Canyon, that are perfect for canoeing, rafting, or in some cases, hiking.
The park has natural hot springs right along the Rio Grande, with the ruins of a hundred-year-old bath house.

Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park in Florida is 95% under the waters of Biscayne Bay. The park protects the unique marine zone between the Everglades and the Atlantic, including the northernmost Florida Keys that reach from Key Largo towards Miami.

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park protects a deep chasm of the Gunnison River in Colorado. The national park is not overly developed - the inner walls of the canyon are too steep to allow regularly maintained trails down into the canyon, but there are hiking trails on the canyon rim. Much of the canyon can be seen from the two scenic drives in the park.

The South Rim Drive is a paved road with 12 viewpoints, some of which are not open year round. The South Rim Drive is much busier than the North Rim Drive, which is a seasonal gravel road with six viewpoints.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah contains the geologic wonderland of Bryce Canyon, an eroded red rock amphitheatre famous for its hoodoos. Hoodoos are free-standing pinnacles of rock that erosion has separated from the main base of rock, making fantastic shadows and providing a surreal setting for sunrises and sunsets. The national park's scenic drive even has viewpoints named Sunrise and Sunset for those times of the day, along with Inspiration and Bryce viewpoints.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park in Southern Utah is the most diverse of Utah's five national parks. The Colorado River has carved canyons out of the red rock Utah Desert, leaving isolated mesas rich with Ancestral Pueblo Indian heritage. The park is famous for its river raft trips on the Green and the Colorado Rivers. These trips can be arranged through outfitters, or planned well in advance as a private trip.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park in southern Utah contains the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic folding of the earth's horizontal layers. The most dramatic part of the fold is the Capitol Reef, for which the park is named. Unlike several other southwestern national parks, Capitol Reef National Park also preserves the settler heritage and culture of the Mormon pioneers who moved into the area. A fruit orchard is still maintained in the town of Fruita. The old Gifford Homestead has been preserved as a living heritage site.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico is the premiere cave system in the Southwest. The national park preserves the famous caves, which you can enter through either the natural entrance or by taking an elevator down to the main room. The park is in the Guadalupe Mountains, which continue into Texas to become the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Many people visit both national parks on the same trip. In addition to the main cave, Carlsbad has several more adventurous caves to tour.

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park contains five islands in the Pacific Ocean off of Santa Barbara and Ventura, California. There are eight Channel Islands, including Catalina, which is not in the park. They are known for their biodiversity - native plants and animals developed on the island differently from the mainland. The Chumash Indians lived on most of the islands before Europeans came. After the Europeans came, the islands became ranches. Unfortunately, the livestock did destroy a lot of the native wildlife, and plenty of invasive species (like feral pigs) stayed on the islands.

Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park in South Carolina contains a 2.4 mile boardwalk hiking trail through its old-growth bottomland forest. This is the largest section of floodplain forest left in the southeastern United States. As the seasons change, the water from the Congaree River floods into the forest, elevating the water table.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is the gem of the Cascades. The brilliant blue of the lake water contrasts with the green of the forest, the black of the volcanic crater walls, and the white of the snow that lasts well into the summer.

Visit in the summer or the winter. The summer is when most visitors come, after the park service clears the snow from the road. Driving up the side of the volcano to the lake, you will see different micro-climates in the national park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, near Cleveland, is a recreational park in the Cuyahoga River valley. Once famous as a symbol of environmental destruction when the river burned, the Cuyahoga River has been protected and restored to a natural state.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is more than just the lowest, hottest point in the United States. Although Badwater, which is below sea level, is one of the most interesting parts of the park, be sure to spend several days here. Come to Badwater at noon in the middle of the summer if you are crazy. For the rest of us, try very early in the morning, or in winter. My GPS recorded my elevation with a negative number, which I thought was interesting enough to use as a waypoint. Another must-see part of this California desert park is the sand dunes.

Denali National Park and Preserve

Denali National Park in Alaska contains Mount McKinley (also known as Denali), the tallest peak in North America. Some come to climb the mountain, a trip that takes intense preparation and several weeks of climbing. Others come to backpack through the wilderness that surrounds the mountain. Last but not least, the bus tours on the only park road in six million acres of wilderness are extremely popular for sightseeing, and wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed.

Dry Tortugas National Park

The real attraction of Dry Tortugas National Park is the desert island feeling. 70 miles off of Key West, Florida, this isolated group of islands is easily visited on a ferry or seaplane tour. In the 1800's, these islands were considered vital to national defense and control of the Gulf of Mexico during a war. The army built Fort Jefferson, one of the most surreal sights in the USA.

Everglades National Park

The heart of South Florida is the Everglades, a threatened ecosystem of wetlands between the Florida coasts. Everglades National Park preserves part of this environment, including quite a few alligators. Visit the Everglades in the winter - the summer has a lot less visitors for a reason!

Gates Of The Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park in northern Alaska contains the central Brooks Range of mountains, arctic tundra, and alpine valleys. The park is not easy to get to - access is usually by bush plane, and visitors have to be self sufficient. There are no established trails in the park, and no facilities or roads.

Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska is largely a water-based park - the national park preserves the marine habitat as well as glaciers, fjords, and mountains. The national park is one of the best places in the world to see glaciers.

Most visitors arrive by boat - some on Alaskan Inside Passage cruises, others by private boat or tour boats from Juneau, Alaska or Bartlett Cove. The National Park particularly caters to large cruise vessels. A park ranger will join the cruise on board for the day. You can get your national park passport stamped, or join a ranger program.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park has much more to see than glaciers. The park is in the northern Rocky Mountains of Montana, up against the Canadian border. The highlight of the park for most visitors is the Going-to-the-Sun road, famous for its mountain viewpoints and stunning lakes. This road is only open in the peak of the summer - earlier visitors will find portions of the road closed, although they may be bikable. Riding your bike on the Going-to-the-Sun road with no other traffic on it is one of the best experiences you can have in the national park system on two wheels.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park contains the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, which words can not really do justice. Neither can a few photos on a web page. Try and see the canyon in all four seasons, especially winter when it gets frosted with snow. Hiking down into the canyon is the best way to see it, either to one of the viewpoints, or all the way to the river. At the bottom of the Grand Canyon is Phantom Ranch, which offers a place to sleep before hiking back up to the top.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is even more impressive than its better known northern neighbor, Yellowstone National Park. The Grand Teton mountains do not have foothills - the valley goes straight up to the feet of the peaks, making them stand out against the sagebrush and lakes beneath them. Go early, before the wind has stirred up waves in the lakes, to see the reflections of any of the Tetons in Jenny Lake, String Lake, Jackson Lake or any of the other lakes inside the national park.

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is in Nevada, near the Utah border, in one of America's largest deserts, the Great Basin. Called the Great Basin because water that falls as rain within its borders never reaches the ocean (the desert is surrounded by mountains, and no rivers flow out of it). The desert includes large parts of Nevada and Utah, along with smaller parts of California, Wyoming, Oregon, and Idaho. The national park preserves one section of the desert around Wheeler Peak (13,063 feet), the second tallest mountain in Nevada.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The sand dunes of Great Sand Dunes National Park are nestled into the Sangre de Cristo mountains in southern Colorado. Wander through the dunes like a Saharan adventurer, but be prepared! The sand in the dunes will destroy most camera lenses, so be very careful when taking pictures. Also be aware that there is no fresh water available in the dune system, and it can take a very long time to hike through the sand if you are planning a walk. It also gets very hot in the dunes, because they are exposed.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the nation's most popular national parks - and it's free. Get out of your car and onto a trail to avoid most of the crowds in this park.

The Smoky Mountains are spectacular if you go on a day when it is not raining. You will see ranges and ranges of mountains marching off to the horizon. Because they are mostly covered by trees, and they are so close together, they donit give the same sense of grandeur as Western national parks. The Appalachians are an older, softer mountain range than the Rockies, Sierras, or Cascades.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is for hikers. The star attractions of the park are McKittrick Canyon, El Capitan, and Guadalupe Peak.

McKittrick Canyon is an easy day hike along a beautiful creek at the bottom of a tall canyon. You will cross the creek a few times, so be prepared if there has been a lot of rain. El Capitan is probably the most recognizable feature of the park, with the face of the mountain coming up out of the desert.

Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park on the island of Maui in Hawaii is famous for two things - its sunrises, and downhill bike tours down the side of the mountain. You probably are not going to go to Maui just for the volcano - it's interesting, but not that interesting. At the top of the volcano, if it isn't clouded over, you will be able to see down the rim into the crater. It does cloud over often, or rain at the top, so check in advance before a drive. Along the drive up from the beach, you will pass through several towns in what is known as Upcountry.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii is famous for the Kilauea volcano, which could be erupting lava when you visit. The lava flows change on a regular basis. Check with the National Park Service (either at the visitor center or on the web) to see if the lava is flowing, and whether it is accessible. The lava flows generally throw off noxious fumes that can make it very hard to breathe, and seeing the lava also usually entails hiking across broken lava to get to a viewing point.

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is an urban national park - instead of thinking Yellowstone and wilderness, think large city park. The national park surrounds the city of Hot Springs on three sides, as the national park covers the mountainsides and historic Bathhouse Row.

Come to this national park for one of three things - hiking, hot springs treatment, or a fascinating look at a historic hot springs bath house. You can also visit the new Hot Springs Museum of Contemporary Art on Bath House Row, or visit the observation tower on Hot Springs Mountain if you are in town.

Isle Royale National Park

In the middle of Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park is a wilderness national park perfect for multiple day kayaking or backpacking trips. The national park is not accessible from the mainland except by boat. Two ferries run from Grand Portage, Minnesota, one ferry runs from Copper Harbor, Michigan, and the fourth ferry starts in Houghton, Michigan. You can also take your own boat across Lake Superior to the park, although weather conditions on the lake can turn horrible quickly.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave desert of Southern California preserves and protects almost 800,000 acres of desert lowlands, mountains, and oases near Palm Springs.

The Joshua Tree itself is one of the indicator plants of the Mojave Desert, which is higher in elevation than the Colorado Desert. You can see Joshua trees along the road, although many of them have burned in recent years.

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Katmai National Park in Alaska protects the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a volcanic ash flow. Now the park is even more famous for the brown bears of Brooks Camp. The bear-viewing platforms of Brooks Camp are a world-renowned photographic destination for getting pictures of brown bears catching salmon.

The park offers several ranger programs - an hour long cultural walk to a home site, a three mile round trip hike up the flanks of Dumpling Mountain into alpine tundra, and a bus tour of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska on the Kenai Peninsula is one of the more accessible national parks in Alaska. Seward, Alaska is the main gateway town for the park. Many tour operators offer half-day or full day boat tours from Seward into Resurrection Bay to view the glaciers. Lucky travelers will also see wildlife from the boat tour.

By road, you can access the Exit Glacier area. There are trails at Exit Glacier, and you can get up close to a glacier. The road to Exit Glacier is paved, but in the winter it becomes a winter recreation trail.

Kobuk Valley National Park

Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska is one of the more remote national parks in Alaska. There is no road access to the national park, so you will need to arrange a bush plane flight into the park or an air taxi into one of the villages. The park has been the site of caribou migration for thousands of years, and has a rich cultural heritage of caribou hunting.

The Sand Dunes in Kobuk Valley reach up to 100 feet high. They are are the largest sand dunes in the arctic. There are three different areas of sand dunes within the park.

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska is near Anchorage but still remote - there is no road access to the national park. To enter the park, you will need to arrange an air taxi, either wheeled or a float plane. No facilities exist within the park for camping, so be prepared for primitive camping. If you don't have experience with backcountry camping, go with a guided trip into the park.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is in the remote northeast of California , 44 miles east of Redding California.

The park contains Lassen Peak, a 10,800 foot dormant volcano. The trail to the top of Lassen Peak is steep, rising 2,000 vertical feet over 2.5 miles, but does not require any climbing skills to get to the top. The climb is one of the top attractions of the park.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is the world's largest cave system. There are over 367 miles of mapped cave. Most visitors come for one of the many cave tours offered throughout the day, but you can also hike, camp, ride a mountain bike, ride a horse, or canoe one of the rivers.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park in Southwest Colorado contains the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo (also known as the Anasazi) people. These dwellings date back to the years 600 to 1300, making them some of the oldest and best preserved buildings in the United States.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park takes you into the alpine and sub-alpine zones, only a two hour drive from Seattle. Paved roads to Paradise and Sunrise areas lead onto the flanks of the volcano. Both areas have wildflower meadows laced with trails. Try hiking to the top of one of the subsidiary peaks around Rainier, such as Burroughs Mountain or Mount Fremont, for views of the mountain, its glaciers, and the rivers that flow from the glaciers. Climbing Mount Rainier is best done as part of a guided group, and there are several outfitters.

National Park of American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa is in the South Pacific, in the Samoan Islands. This lush tropical park is far away from the continental United States, and preserves the Samoan landscape and culture. The main activities are hiking, snorkeling, and soaking in the majesty of the islands.

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park is a hiker's park. At the high latitudes by the Canadian border, the timberline is low enough that the peaks in the parks have an Alpine appearance. The mountains in the park were carved out by glaciers in the last ice age, and further shaped by hydroelectric projects built on the Skagit river and damming of Lake Chelan. The casual visitor can drive through on Washington 20, stop at the viewpoints, and do some of the shorter hikes, especially Rainy Lake by Rainy Pass in the Forest Service land.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park in Washington is one of the most diverse national parks. The park itself is spread out across the large Olympic peninsula in Washington, and requires a full day to just drive around. There are several different areas of the park. Close to Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is a sub-alpine environment similar to those at North Cascades and Rainier at 5,000 feet high. You can either take in a viewpoint or hike through the paths in the meadows.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona contains the fossilized remnants of an ancient forest and the Painted Desert, a multi-hued badlands along Interstate 40.

Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National Park preserves the tallest trees on the planet, the coast redwoods. Some of the trees are extremely accessible, as the groves are right off the road. Although you can see redwood trees in other California parks, Redwood has much more to offer. The park contains 37 miles of wild Pacific coastline. Ask the rangers for the best places to go tidepooling. There are several hikes to deserted beaches, where there will be no one except you and some driftwood.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is one of the most visited national parks in the system. On a nice summer weekend, it will seem like most of Denver is up in the national park. The national park preserves a small sliver of the Rockies - don't feel like you have to visit this park to see the Rocky Mountains and fight the crowds.

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park outside of Tucson is an urban mountain park, typical of Southwestern cities. The hiking here is first rate, but there are plenty of other places to see saguaro cactuses in Arizona, so do't feel like you have to go far out of your way to get here. The park is split into two sections, one on the east side of Tucson, and one on the west side of Tucson. It is hard to tell what the national significance of this park is, compared to city parks like Phoenix's South Mountain Park, or the much more impressive Catalina State Park north of Tucson.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California is the slightly less famous cousin of Yosemite National Park. This doesn't mean that the park is any less interesting to visit, but it does get overlooked by tour groups and others. Although you can go visit just to see the sequoia trees, make hiking a focus of your trip and you will really get to enjoy the Kings Canyon section of the park.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is a long, narrow strip that follows 105 miles of Skyline Drive through the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. There are viewpoints and hikes at pullouts every mile or two. Ask at the ranger station for detailed maps of the area you are in. Because of pollution, the views can range from stunning to hazy forms, and this varies from day to day. The Appalachian Trail runs through the park, and crosses the road many times. It’s very easy to hike along a short section of the trail and then double back or use a side trail.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park contains the former president's two ranches in the badlands of North Dakota. The Little Missouri River shaped the land that would in turn shape Teddy Roosevelt into the conservationist president he would become.

The Maltese Cross Cabin is open to visitors and contains several items that Theodore Roosevelt would have used when he was in residence at the Maltese Cross Ranch.

Virgin Islands National Park

In the Caribbean Ocean, the island of St. John in the Virgin Islands contains Virgin Islands National Park. The park covers half of the island and much of the ocean surrounding the island.

The national park preserves beaches, coral reefs, tropical rain forests, and wetlands. An entire island vacation can be organized around activities in the park. The park is famous for its 20 hiking trails, snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, scuba diving, and just relaxing on the beach.

Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota is a boater's paradise. The bulk of the park is only accessible by water - motorboat, canoe, or kayak. There are several land access points, but a trip to this national park should involve getting into the backcountry waters of the lakes that make up this beautiful park.

Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota in the Black Hills is one of many beautiful National Parks in western South Dakota. Wind Cave is one of the largest caves in the world, and in addition to the the cave, the national park contains miles of hiking trails.

Your trip to Wind Cave will likely depend on which cave tours are being offered. The wild caving tour is a can't miss experience if you don't mind getting dirty - the tour is strenuous, but very doable without a lot of tight squeezes.

Wrangell - St Elias National Park and Preserve

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska is the largest national park by area, and one of the most difficult to appreciate. There are four major mountain ranges within the park, including the Wrangells, Chugach, St. Elias, and the Alaska Range. The tallest mountain in the national park is St. Elias peak.

Many visitors come to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park by road, visiting the historic mining towns of McCarthy and Kennecott. The historic town of Kennecott has been preserved by the National Park Service for visitors.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is more than just Old Faithful. As America's first national park, Yellowstone has classic park architecture, herds of wildlife, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails. For most visitors, Yellowstone National Park is all about the different areas of the park - Old Faithful, Mammoth, Canyon, Norris, Lake, Tower, Roosevelt - accessible by the Grand Loop road and the feeder roads to the various Yellowstone gateway towns.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park stretches across California's Sierra Nevada mountain range to include two enormous canyons, alpine meadows, mountain peaks, sequoia trees, and beautiful waterfalls. The waterfalls are best in spring after the snow in the Sierras starts to melt off. The classic Yosemite experience is to drive up from the flat Central Valley through the oak-covered Sierra foothills to Tunnel View, where you get your first glimpse of Yosemite Valley, with waterfalls pouring off the top of the canyon and Half Dome catching the sun.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park in southwestern Utah holds Zion Canyon, a treasure of the Southwest. Unlike the Grand Canyon, where visitors admire the canyon from the rim and can hike down, visitors to Zion enter the canyon through its mouth, on the same level as the Virgin river.