I never think, when I start itching to travel again, to just seek out the nearest national park. That’s Shenandoah for me, and it’s only about an hour and a half away from my home in DC. For people living out West, there are a ton more options: Less than 10 of the country’s 59 parks are east of the Mississippi, with huge numbers of them in California, Utah, Arizona, and Alaska.

And they’re all truly spectacular. While there are obviously the popular destinations of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon, there are at the same time less visited ones, particularly in the more remote parts of Utah and Alaska, that are nonetheless mindblowingly awesome. Here are pictures from each of the 59 designated national parks, along with their locations. You know, in case you’re itching to travel a bit.

This post was originally published on May 5, 2014.


Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the oldest and probably most spectacular of the national parks in the United States (though that’s a tough competition). It sits in northwestern Wyoming, with edges spilling into southeastern Idaho and southwestern Montana.


Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is the oldest American park east of the Mississippi. It sits primarily on Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine.


Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park sits on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and covers temperate rainforests, mountains, and the Pacific Coast.


Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park in northwest Wyoming is only ten miles away from Yellowstone, the granddaddy of America’s park system.


Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park in northwest Arizona is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and is an absolute must on every traveler’s bucket list.


National Park of American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa is spread across three islands, and is the only park on this list south of the equator.


Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is in eastern California, and behind Yellowstone, is probably the best known of the 59. Its founding was in large part due to the efforts of John Muir and the Sierra Club.


Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is in northern California, and is known for its massive trees, as well as for being the place where they shot the Endor scenes in Return of the Jedi.


Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on the Big Island of Hawaii and covers two volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Kilauea (which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world).


Canyonlands National Park

An excellent park near Moab, Utah, and the perhaps better-known Arches NP, Canyonlands is a popular park for backpackers and hikers.


Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, in southeastern Alaska near the panhandle, has one of the sharpest reliefs in the world: 10 miles from the coastline are the St. Elias Mountains, some of the tallest on the continent.


Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is in southeastern California in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts.


Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley is the only national park in Ohio, in the northeast between Cleveland and Akron. It is known for its hiking and birdwatching.


Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park straddles California and Nevada just east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It contains Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the United States, and is also known for being America’s hottest and driest spot.


Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords sits on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula near the town of Seward. It has one of the largest ice fields in the United States.


Great Basin National Park

The Great Basin is in Nevada along the Utah border, lying between the Sierra Nevada and Wasatch Mountains. It's home to the oldest trees in the world, the Great Basin bristlecone pine.


Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is in the badlands of western North Dakota.


Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde, in southwestern Colorado, is probably best known for its ancient Pueblo cliff-dwellings.


Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier, located in southwest Washington in the Cascade Range, is best known for the peak it’s named after, its incredible trails, and its huge glaciers.


Katmai National Park and Preserve

Katmai National Park is on mainland Alaska just opposite Kodiak Island. It’s known for its brown bear population, particularly this famous spot where they converge to fish.


Zion National Park

Zion National Park is in southwest Utah situated between the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau.


Channel Islands National Park

The Channel Islands are just off the coast of Southern California, across from Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. It is known for its seals, whales, and underwater kelp forests.


Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave in central Kentucky is the longest known cave system in the world, with 400 miles of surveyed passageways.


Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes lies in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, and it contains the tallest sand dunes in North America.


Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is in southern Texas, and runs 118 miles along the Rio Grande, thus making it an international border. It’s named after the big bend you can see in the river on a Texas-Mexico map.


Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake is in southern Oregon. It fills in the crater of the collapsed volcano Mount Mazama, and is the deepest lake in the United States, at 1,943 feet, making it the ninth deepest in the world.


Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is located in eastern California, and is best known for its giant sequoia trees, including General Sherman, the largest tree on Earth.


Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave is near Theodore Roosevelt NP in western South Dakota, and consists of the cave, which was the first cave in the world to be declared a national park, and the prairie on top of it.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smokies covers part of the Appalachian Mountains and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. The Appalachian Trail passes through it, and it is the most visited national park in the United States.


Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park is in southern Arizona, and is named after the huge cactuses native to the area.


Denali National Park

Named after Denali (also known as Mount McKinley), the highest mountain in the United States, Denali National Park is in south-central Alaska, about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Anchorage.


Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park protects Biscayne Bay (just south of Miami) and its incredible barrier reefs: only 5% of the park is on land, and that 5% is largely a mangrove forest.


Arches National Park

Arches National Park, in eastern Utah near Moab, is (obviously) best known for its over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, though the number is decreasing over time due to erosion.


Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is in the north of Colorado, and straddles the Continental Divide.


Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia sits along the Shenandoah River and Valley, and is known for its beautiful autumn leaves.


Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles is in Salinas Valley, California, and is home to these strangely shaped peaks caused by the erosion of an extinct volcano.


Congaree National Park

Congaree is located in South Carolina, and is known for its swamps and its old-growth bottomland hardwood forests. It’s a great park to canoe or kayak through and was founded as a result of a conservation campaign led by the Sierra Club.


Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon, near Fresno, California, is connected to Sequoia National Park. It contains the third largest tree in the world, the famous “General Grant.”


Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is in southwestern South Dakota, and consists of buttes and prairie. It is co-administered by the Oglala Lakota tribe.


Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is in northeastern California, and is known for Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world.


Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon is in southwestern Utah, and is not actually a canyon but rather a natural amphitheatre with geological structures called “hoodoos.” It was originally settled by Mormon pioneers.


Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park is on the Alaska panhandle near Juneau. It’s a popular stop on Alaska cruises, and is known for its kayaking and hiking.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is in western Colorado and runs along the Gunnison River. The park is known for its excellent rock climbing.


Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park is in northeastern Arizona. It protects the fossils of trees that lived 225 million years ago.


Dry Tortugas National Park

The Dry Tortugas National Park is situated at the westernmost end of the Florida Keys, and includes Fort Jefferson, the largest piece of masonry work in the Western Hemisphere, as well as seven other islands. It is only accessible by seaplane or boat.


Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

The northernmost national park, Gates of the Arctic is entirely in the Arctic Circle in the Brooks Range in Alaska. It is larger than Belgium, and is not accessible by road: you either have to hike or fly in.


North Cascades National Park

The North Cascades are in northwest Washington, and they border Canada’s British Columbia.


Everglades National Park

The Everglades in southern Florida is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states, after Death Valley and Yellowstone, and it protects the Everglades wetlands and the huge number of endangered species that live there.


Haleakala National Park

Haleakala National Park covers a large portion of southeast Maui in Hawaii, and includes the summit and crater of the dormant Haleakala volcano. It’s known for its incredible sunrises.


Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park is in northern Michigan on Lake Superior, near the Canadian border, with great hiking and kayaking.


Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, in northern Montana, sits right along the border with Canada. Scientists predict its glaciers will have fully vanished in another few years.


Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Carlsbad Caverns is in southeastern New Mexico, and consists of over 118 total caves.


Lake Clark National Park and Preserve

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, and is known for its coastal rainforests and sockeye salmon.


Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs, in northern Minnesota, consists of four major lakes, and is known for its awesome water sports.


Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is in southern Utah, and is so named because of a number of domes of sandstone that bear a resemblance to the US Capitol Building.


Kobuk Valley National Park

Kobuk Valley is yet another Alaskan national park, in northwest Alaska just north of the Arctic Circle.


Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park in central Arkansas is the smallest National Park, and includes parts of the town Hot Springs. The springs are not in their original natural condition, but have been changed to work as therapeutic baths.


Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The Guadalupe Mountains in western Texas comprised the highest points in the state, topping out at 8,749ft. There's good hiking in the park.


Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park covers most of St. John Island and Hassel Island in the US Virgin Islands. Check out its scuba diving and rainforest hikes.