Hiking in a national park is one of the best ways to appreciate the natural beauty and take a breather from the hustle and bustle of city life. And these are the best national parks for doing just that! Oh, and did we mention all of those steep hills can help you sculpt some great glutes while you’re at it?
Arches National Park
Located in eastern Utah, Arches National Park is a unique geological wonderland, boasting the world’s largest collection of natural sandstone formations. In order to best appreciate the breathtaking beauty of this national gem, lace up your boots and hit one of the park’s numerous hiking trails, which are suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities. Not to be missed is the Delicate Arches hike, a 3-mile jaunt that leads visitors to the base of the awe-inspiring Delicate Arch. The climate is dry and humid, so don’t forget to bring water—and a camera!
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Village, CA
Yosemite National Park offers plenty of opportunities for keen hikers. A good moderate-level hike is the Dewey Point route, an 8.2-mile loop (be sure to go in July, when the lush meadows blossom into colorful wildflowers). Another scenic option is the Ostrander Lake hike, a 12-mile round-trip hike through forest and meadow that eventually sharply ascends to scenic viewpoints of Yosemite Valley Domes and the Clark Range. From there, a brief ascent will take you to Ostranker Lake, a tranquil granite-wrapped mountain lake.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon, UT
Famous for its ethereal geology—namely its strikingly shaped limestone rock—Bryce Canyon is also a hub for adventurous hikers. The park offers several day-hiking trails, ranging from easy to moderate to strenuous, that take hikers through shaded groves of Douglas-fir trees to stunning panoramas of the Bryce Canyon amphitheater. Because the trails are interconnected, hikers have endless opportunities to combine the trails and create their own unique route. In addition to the park’s informal hiking opportunities, Bryce Canyon regularly hosts a variety of educational ranger-led hiking tours. For example, visitors can sign up for one of the park’s hugely popular Full Moon Hikes, a nocturnal adventure offered only during the full moon.
Acadia National Park
Mt Desert, ME
The first national park east of the Mississippi, Acadia National Park is a hiker’s paradise with over 120 miles of hiking trails varying in length and difficulty. Situated on the craggy Atlantic coast, the park’s trails take runners on a scenic tour through dense spruce-fir forests, up steep granite ascents, and along exposed cliffs. One popular beginner-friendly trail is the Ocean Path, a flat 4-mile trail with breathtaking views of the Atlantic coastline. For thrill seekers, brave the undesignated 5.5-mile Sargeant Mountain Loop—you’ll skirt along jagged cliffs and take in spectacular views of the expansive scenery below.