Best National Parks in North America – New Lonely Planet Guides

Best National Parks in North America

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Lonely Planet has just released a new collection of five books covering some of the best national parks in North America. From Yellowstone to Yosemite and the Rocky Mountains to Redwood, the USA has some of the most epic national parks in the world.

I’ve been using Lonely Planet’s guides for over 20 years and have a large collection to help me plan all my trips. As with everything they put out, you can be sure of a set of excellent guides with fine attention to detail and including some of the USA’s must-see places.

One of the reasons I started travelling (and writing) was after reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods about his adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail. Many of the places he went to are featured in these guides such as the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Park.

Lonely Planet Guides to the Best National Parks in North America

Whether you want to climb Grand Teton, chase waterfalls in Yosemite or paddle through the Everglades, these books have the most up-to-date advice and user-friendly itineraries to help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests.

They follow the same format as all the other well-thumbed Lonely Planets with plenty of inviting photographs, maps and clearly laid out useful information. The collection includes:

The books showcase the best hikes, drives and cycling trails in each park and include tips for traveling with children, and what clothing and equipment to bring for both day and overnight hikes.

1. Lonely Planet’s California and Southwest USA’s National Parks

California National Parks

Parks featured in this guide:

  • Joshua Tree
  • Redwood
  • Sequoia
  • Yosemite
  • Grand Canyon
  • Zion and more

California and the Southwest USA are regions of the United States with a diverse landscape and rich cultural history. California is known for its beautiful beaches, towering redwood forests, and vibrant cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Southwest is famous for its deserts, canyons, and mountains, as well as its unique mix of Native American, Mexican, and cowboy cultures. From the Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree National Park, the Southwest is home to some of the country’s most iconic natural wonders.

2. Lonely Planet’s Florida and the South’s National Parks

Florida National Parks

Parks featured in this guide:

  • Congaree
  • The Great Smoky Mountains
  • Hot Springs
  • Biscayne
  • Everglades

While the national parks in Florida and the South may not be as well-known as some of their counterparts in the western United States, they offer a wealth of natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.

In Florida, Everglades National Park is a must-visit for anyone interested in exploring the state’s unique wetland ecosystem, home to alligators, manatees, and a variety of bird species.

In the South, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, offering hiking trails, waterfalls, and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

3. Lonely Planet’s Great Lakes and the Midwest USA’s National Parks

Great Lakes and the Midwest

Parks featured in this guide:

  • Badlands
  • Cuyahoga Valley
  • Gateway Arch
  • Isle Royale
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Voyageurs
  • Wind Cave

The national parks at the Great Lakes and Midwest USA offer visitors a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural history, and outdoor adventure.

Indiana Dunes National Park, located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, offers 15 miles of pristine beaches, sand dunes, and forests to explore. Isle Royale National Park, located in Lake Superior, is one of the least-visited national parks in the country, but offers an opportunity to experience a remote and wild landscape.

Further west, Badlands National Park in South Dakota is known for its dramatic rock formations, while Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota offers visitors a chance to explore the rugged terrain of the American West.

4. Lonely Planet’s New England and the Mid-Atlantic States’ National Parks

New England National Parks

Parks featured in this guide:

  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Acadia
  • Skyline Drive
  • Cape Cod National Seashore
  • Blue Ridge Mountains

The national parks in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states offer visitors a chance to explore some of the region’s most iconic landscapes and historical sites. Acadia National Park in Maine offers stunning coastal views, rugged mountains, and a network of hiking trails.

In Massachusetts, the Minute Man National Historical Park tells the story of the Revolutionary War, while the Cape Cod National Seashore offers 40 miles of pristine beaches and dunes. In the Mid-Atlantic region, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia offers scenic drives and hiking trails through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

With a mix of natural beauty and cultural history, the national parks in New England and the Mid-Atlantic are a must-see for anyone exploring the region.

5. Lonely Planet’s Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest’s National Parks

New England National Parks
New England National Parks

Parks featured in this guide:

  • Alaska
  • Crater Lake
  • Mt Rainier
  • Olympic, Glacier
  • Grand Teton
  • The Great Sand Dunes
  • Rocky Mountains
  • Yellowstone National Park

The national parks in the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest offer some of the most awe-inspiring natural beauty and outdoor adventure opportunities in the United States.

Yellowstone National Park, spanning across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is known for its geysers, hot springs, and abundant wildlife, including grizzly bears and wolves. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado offers visitors a chance to explore alpine tundra, glaciers, and over 350 miles of hiking trails.

Further west, Olympic National Park in Washington boasts stunning coastline, temperate rainforests, and snow-capped mountains, while Crater Lake National Park in Oregon features the deepest lake in the United States, known for its stunning blue color.

With an abundance of natural wonders to explore, the national parks of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest are a must-see for anyone seeking adventure in the great outdoors.

Final Thoughts

Now you know about the best national parks in North America and how to plan that perfect trip with these awesome Lonely Planet guides. When I finally make it over the water to the US of A I’ll be sure to use them myself.

Dunhuang, Gobi Desert, China

About the author:

Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. He has travelled to over 60 countries, lived in China and Hong Kong, and is now living the digital nomad life on the road.

Steve prefers “slow travel” and has covered much of Europe and Asia by train, bus and boat.

Where I am now: Yerevan, Armenia 🇦🇲

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