PHOTOS: Find Out Which National Park is Right For You

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PHOTOS: Find Out Which National Park is Right For You

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With 61 national parks to choose from, picking the park that’s the best match for your interests can be a challenge. We’ve taken 10 popular park activities and matched them to the best park for that activity, so the next time you’re wondering which one is best for you, you’ll know where to go.

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Grand Teton National Park / iStock / seanxu
Grand Teton National Park
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For Great Adventuring: Grand Teton National Park

If you long for adventure, look no further than Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. The park has more than 200 miles of trails for hiking, backcountry camping, and world-class fishing. You can water sail, motorboat, and even water ski on Jackson Lake, and kayak or canoe throughout the park. But, for the ultimate adventure, climb the 13,770-foot Grand Teton, the largest in the Teton Range.

Read more: How to Explore the Grand Circle on a Budget

If you long for adventure, look no further than Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park. The park has more than 200 miles of trails for hiking, backcountry camping, and world-class fishing. You can water sail, motorboat, and even water ski on Jackson Lake, and kayak or canoe throughout the park. But, for the ultimate adventure, climb the 13,770-foot Grand Teton, the largest in the Teton Range.

Smoky Mountains National Park
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For Hiking: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

For overall number of trails and variety of experiences, Great Smoky Mountains National Park – situated on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee – is a must for the hiker. The park has 150 official trails, some to waterfalls, others through old-growth forests, and several with endless views. The four-mile round-trip Porters Creek hike through abandoned farmsteads is one of our favorites.

Read more: 13 Awe-Inspiring Hiking Destinations Around the World

For overall number of trails and variety of experiences, Great Smoky Mountains National Park – situated on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee – is a must for the hiker. The park has 150 official trails, some to waterfalls, others through old-growth forests, and several with endless views. The four-mile round-trip Porters Creek hike through abandoned farmsteads is one of our favorites.

Glacier Bay National Park
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For Paddling: Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

The national park system offers countless opportunities to paddle your way along scenic waterways, but few come close to the splendor of Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Its 3.3 million acres feature dramatic blue-hued glaciers and abundant wildlife, including humpback whales, orcas, seals, eagles, and brown bears. 

Read more: Tips to Make the Most Out of Your National Park Trip

The national park system offers countless opportunities to paddle your way along scenic waterways, but few come close to the splendor of Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Its 3.3 million acres feature dramatic blue-hued glaciers and abundant wildlife, including humpback whales, orcas, seals, eagles, and brown bears. 

Acadia National Park
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For Camping: Acadia National Park

Maine's Acadia National Park has it all: pine-covered campsites, sweeping views of the ocean, and plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, climbing, and more. Choose from one of three campgrounds. Blackwoods Campground, located five miles from the picturesque town of Bar Harbor, is the largest with 275 sites while Seawall Campground is smaller and more secluded. 

Read more: The 11 Best National Park Lodges in North America

Maine's Acadia National Park has it all: pine-covered campsites, sweeping views of the ocean, and plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, climbing, and more. Choose from one of three campgrounds. Blackwoods Campground, located five miles from the picturesque town of Bar Harbor, is the largest with 275 sites while Seawall Campground is smaller and more secluded. 

Gettysburg Military National Park
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For History: Gettysburg National Military Park

Technically, Virginia's Gettysburg is a national military park – but when it comes to history, it can’t be beat. Here, you can explore the battlefield that changed the course of the Civil War on your own or with a licensed battlefield guide. On weekends, spring through fall, volunteer living history organizations offer free programs that provide additional insight into the conflict.

Read more: Boo! These 7 National Parks Are Haunted

Technically, Virginia's Gettysburg is a national military park – but when it comes to history, it can’t be beat. Here, you can explore the battlefield that changed the course of the Civil War on your own or with a licensed battlefield guide. On weekends, spring through fall, volunteer living history organizations offer free programs that provide additional insight into the conflict.

Virgin Islands National Park
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For Romance: Virgin Islands National Park

Virgin Islands National Park gets our vote for couples. Its more than 7,000 acres cover 75 percent of St. John Island and include 5,600 acres of offshore aquatic habitat. Hike, snorkel, sail, kayak, paddleboard, or just relax on the sandy beach with a fruity drink and your significant other.

Read more: 7 Off-the-Beaten-Path Caribbean Islands

Virgin Islands National Park gets our vote for couples. Its more than 7,000 acres cover 75 percent of St. John Island and include 5,600 acres of offshore aquatic habitat. Hike, snorkel, sail, kayak, paddleboard, or just relax on the sandy beach with a fruity drink and your significant other.

Yellowstone National Park
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For Wildlife: Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park – spread out in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho – is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states, plus 300 species of birds, four species of amphibians, and six species of reptiles. Watch for grizzly bears, wolves, bighorn sheep, bison, elk, mountain goats, and mule deer. (Just remember to keep a safe distance – every year, park visitors are injured by wildlife when they get too close.)

Read more: 10 Overlooked National Parks

Yellowstone National Park – spread out in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho – is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states, plus 300 species of birds, four species of amphibians, and six species of reptiles. Watch for grizzly bears, wolves, bighorn sheep, bison, elk, mountain goats, and mule deer. (Just remember to keep a safe distance – every year, park visitors are injured by wildlife when they get too close.)

Grand Canyon National Park
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For Photography: Grand Canyon National Park

Some of the nation’s most iconic scenery can be found in our national parks, but Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona – at one-mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 277 miles long – offers endless photographic opportunities. Plus, you can spend the day in one spot on the rim and see the scene before you fluidly change as light plays on the canyon walls.

Read more: How to Take Stunning National Park Photos 

Some of the nation’s most iconic scenery can be found in our national parks, but Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona – at one-mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 277 miles long – offers endless photographic opportunities. Plus, you can spend the day in one spot on the rim and see the scene before you fluidly change as light plays on the canyon walls.

Bryce Canyon National Park
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For Stargazing: Bryce Canyon National Park

Far from the light pollution of civilization, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah offers a sky so dark that you can see 7,500 stars on a moonless night. Participate in one of the park’s astronomy programs during the week of a new moon for best viewing, or, for a total immersion experience, attend the park’s Annual Astronomy Festival that includes four days of stellar activities.

Read more: 8 of the World's Darkest Places for Stargazing
 

Far from the light pollution of civilization, Bryce Canyon National Park offers a sky so dark that you can see 7,500 stars on a moonless night. Participate in one of the park’s astronomy programs during the week of a new moon for best viewing, or, for a total immersion experience, attend the park’s Annual Astronomy Festival that includes four days of stellar activities.

Everglades National Park
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For Birding: Everglades National Park

Florida's Everglades National Park was set aside to protect the birds that inhabit its 1.5 million acres. The park has nine designated bird watching spots, but its Anhinga Trail is among the most famous bird walks in the world. Bring your binoculars to glimpse species ranging from the reclusive American Bittern to the more common Flamingo.

Read more: Easy Southern Escapes: Everglades City, Florida

Florida's Everglades National Park was set aside to protect the birds that inhabit its 1.5 million acres. The park has nine designated bird watching spots, but its Anhinga Trail is among the most famous bird walks in the world. Bring your binoculars to glimpse species ranging from the reclusive American Bittern to the more common Flamingo.

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