I love to visit national parks, and I have many left to visit. Here is my completely subjective ranking of national parks I have visited so far. List subject to change at any time.
1. Rocky Mountain National Park.
What can I say? I love this park! It is absolutely beautiful! There are numerous hikes. Trail Ridge road is a great way to see the park if you don’t want to hike. It’s so close to Estes Park, so it’s easy to stay in town and visit the park multiple days.
Visited: June 2014, June 2016, June 2019
2. Mount Rainier
Beautiful waterfalls, nice hikes, a huge volcano, and Grove of the Patriarchs. There are so many diverse sites to see.
Visited: September 2001, August 2012
3. Crater Lake
It really is that blue! It is amazing to see it in person.
Visited: July 2017
In all honesty, I feel like this one is an incomplete. We visited so little of this park. The views from Hurricane Ridge and Hurricane Hill are amazing, but we didn’t really visit the rain forest portion of the park.
Visited: August 2012
Watching the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain was memorable. I wish we would have had at least one more day here to truly experience it. Bar Harbor was a nice place to use as a base. We were able to walk everywhere in town we wanted to go.
Visited: June 2018
6. Mesa Verde
I had visited once when I was a kid/teen, but didn’t remember it as well as I thought I did. Park Point is a must – the views of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah are nice. Unfortunately, during our latest visits, there were no ranger-led cliff dwellings tours due to Covid-19, but we were able to see all of the dwellings from a distance.
Visited: ?, June 2020
7. Great Sand Dunes
Giant sand dunes in the middle of Colorado next to snow-capped mountains are unexpected. I remember it being more fun to visit when I was a teen and the sand was cooler.
Visited: July 1992, July 2011
8. Great Smoky Mountains
It’s free to enter, but it tends to be really crowded because of that. There are less-crowded areas of the park you can drive to. I don’t find it as beautiful as a lot of the other national parks in summer, but I would love to visit during the fall to see the color change.
Visited: June 2013
Disclaimer: I did not rank the parks below this. I visited them all when I was a child/teen and have not re-visited as an adult, so my memory might be hazy on them.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Visited: July 1987
Visited: Summer 1986?