Top Ten Scenic U.S. National Parks: Ranked By Beauty, Wildlife, Landmarks, More

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The great outdoors beckons more than ever, and now is a terrific time to plan a trip for 2021 to get out and away after a closed-in 2020.

To help you decide where, Outforia has analyzed 57 of the USA’s most beautiful National Parks, based on factors including sights and landmarks, highest peaks, Instagram hashtags and wildlife spotting opportunities, to rank the most scenic national parks in the USA. 

Based on their findings, the top 10 scenic U.S. National Parks in order are Grand CanyonYosemiteGreat Smoky MountainsSequoia & Kings CanyonRocky MountainDeath ValleyZionBig Bend, and Grand Teton.

Grand canyon
At the rim of the Grand Canyon LEA LANE

The iconic Grand Canyon ranks number one for sights and landmarkswith the highest number (44) of landmark attractions including the canyon’s spectacular gorge, viewing points such as Lipan Point, and scenic routes such as East Rim Drive and Cape Rotal Drive. It is alsothe most loved national park on Instagramwith 3.8 million posts mentioning the park. 

The spectacular gorge attracts over six million visitors a year seeking a glimpse of the breathtaking canyon carved by the Colorado River, stretching across 1.2 million acres. The South Rim is the most accessible, offering hiking trails, viewpoints, and over 300 campsites.


Yellowstone Grand Canyon
Lower Falls is by far the most popular waterfall in Yellowstone National Park. GETTY

Yellowstone ranks first for nature attractions, with 122 natural beauty spots, including thermal geysers, mountain ranges, waterfalls, canyons, rivers and lakes. Yellowstone Lake is situated over the largest super-volcano on the continent. 


Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Baskins Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP VIA GETTY IMAGES

The park which is home to the highest number of animal species is the Great Smoky Mountains. You can find 1,778 species of animalsincluding 200 species of birds, 50 species of fish, 39 reptiles, and 43 amphibians, as well as notable populations of black bears, elk and more. The Great Smoky Mountains are also the most diverse in plant life, with over 2,600 different plant species found within the park.



Although not in the Top 10, the national park which boasts the highest peak (over 20,000 feet) in North America is Denali, Alaska. One of the best ways to see the surroundings is to hike up to a vantage point.

You can view the full research of all 57 parks surveyed, by clicking here. The variety of terrain, climate, wildlife and historic sights and sites offered at all our national parks provide escape and beauty throughout the country.

Something we all could use in the upcoming year.


  • Lea Lane

    Lea Lane is an award-winning writer and communicator, author of Places I Remember: Tales, Truths, Delights from 100 Countries, and Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks, available at Amazon as print and Kindle eBook. She writes for magazines, newspapers and on websites, including, The New York Times, Salon, and the Daily Beast. Lea's travel podcast, Places I Remember with Lea Lane, is available wherever you listen to podcasts. She interviews passionate travelers and travel experts around the world. She's authored eight books (including Solo Traveler, finalist for best travel book of the year from the North American Travel Journalists Association). She has contributed to dozens of other books, from encyclopedias to guidebooks. Lea wrote a column called "Going It Alone," for Gannett Newspapers, and was managing editor of "Travel Smart" newsletter. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Visit her web site: Her travel blog is Lea's travel podcast is Places I Remember: Travel Talk with Lea Lane is available wherever you listen to podcasts Like and follow: Tweet her @lealane Follow her at Read less

1 Response

  1. Once again in 2021, there are FREE admission days to US national parks, wildlife refuges and national monuments.

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