The Best National Parks To Visit This Summer

Fellow adventurers! Guess what time it is? Yep, it’s that amazing season when the sun is shining bright, and the great outdoors are calling our names! And what better setting for our summer shenanigans than our incredible national parks?

Hold up, though! Not all parks are summer-friendly, and we’re not talking about park grumps. Nope, we’re talking about the ones where the heat can toast you like a marshmallow over a campfire if you visit in July or August. Take Saguaro National Park, for instance — it’s breathtaking, but you might need sunscreen with SPF gazillion!

But worry not, because we’ve got ideas! These parks have perfectly pleasant weather even when the sun is blazing for your summer escapades but might not be the best bet in winter.

So, what are you waiting for? Get packed, put your adventurer hat on, and let’s travel to these summer-friendly national parks together. It’s time to create some epic memories and soak in the beauty of nature without melting like a popsicle. Let the wild summer adventure begin!

National Park Packing List

Gear up for the ultimate adventure in these incredible parks by making sure you’ve got all the essentials packed:

Camping gear — Tents, tools, lights, sleeping bags, and more will open the door to soaking in all the zones within these parks. 

Fire stuffMany parks feature day-use pull-off picnic areas where you can enjoy a fire even if you don’t stay the night. Just be sure to follow all fire rules for any park you visit. 

Hiking shoesOur national parks feature trails for all skill levels. Even if you’ve never hiked before, a pair of good hiking shoes is the ticket to exploring all the spots you should see.

Annual park passYou’ll get your money’s worth off this bad mama jama if you plan to visit more than two parks this year. The more you visit, the more worth it this is. 

Mountain bikes (or hybrid bikes) — Two-wheeled chariots and national parks are a match made in heaven. Whether you have one, buy one, or rent one, try to have one on your trip. 

National Park guidebookDitch the screens and grab yourself an old-fashioned guidebook to explore the parks. You probably won’t have cell reception anyway, making guidebooks all the better. 

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Considering this spot gets 44 feet of snow in the winter, we say you shoot for a summer trip in this direction. The park’s namesake lake was formed over 7,000 years ago from a volcano that collapsed after an eruption.

With depths reaching 1,900 feet, Crater Lake is one of the deepest and bluest in the world. That’s why some of the favorite activities here are scenic drives over the 33-mile rim, hiking along the trails with vistas over the lake, and even swimming (we swear it’ll be life-changing if you can bear the frigid temps).  

Top tip: Take a road trip from Medford along Oregon Route 62 for a scenic 75-mile journey to the park.

RVs for rent near Crater Lake National Park

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Don’t let this picture fool you – these plains explode into other-worldly rock formations not long after you pass this gate.

Jutting up like a Martian castle on the South Dakota plains, The Badlands capture everything that makes our national parks so magical: awe-inspiring vistas, otherworldly scenes, and unforgettable memories.

It’s one of the best national parks to visit during the summer because the crowds are generally manageable and South Dakota summers are more mild than those down south. 

The best way to experience this park is by car to take in the vistas while stopping at the many lookout points and historical sites along the way.

Bonus: Try your hand boondocking at Buffalo Gap dispersed campground — a spot with awesomely high marks for its solitude, its views, and its Bison herds that roam the area. 

RVs for rent near The Badlands

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park

Considering the main road through the park (Going-to-the-Sun Road) isn’t even open from October-May, this park is a must-visit during the summer.

It’s true that Glacier is open year-round and you can still do some amazing winter activities there, but virtually all the iconic Glacier photos you see on Instagram were taken in the summer. 

So don’t forget to grab your entry ticket and be sure to check out spots like Many Glacier, Avalanche Lake, and Apgar Village to experience this epic summer national park. 

RVs for rent near Glacier

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite might be year-round, but we say it’s one of the best national parks to visit this summer because of the wildflower super bloom that’ll be happening. While it’s true that summer is peak season ‘round here, you can beat the crowds by jetting in during shoulder season (May or September).

You could also hang your hat at Oudoorsy Yosemite — a camping and glamping spot just outside the park where you can enjoy low-crowd adventures with a private lake shore and spacious RV sites. 

Don’t have your own RV? Check out these rigs for rent that can be delivered and set up right at Outdoorsy Yosemite

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park

One of the best reasons to visit this park in the summer is because you can combine it with the ultimate New England road trip. This region of the country is packed with history, small-town charm, and summer fun by the beach. 

Acadia is known as the Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast and it features some of the most dramatic oceanside cliffs you can see in the U.S. 

You can hike along said cliffs, explore lighthouses, take a scenic drive along Park Loop Road, and so much more at this jewel in the crown of our national park system.  

RVs for rent near Acadia

Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

This new kid on the block is one of our best national parks to visit in the summer because it’s one of the most unique ways to experience the cooling waters of the Great Lakes.

This massive system of dunes, trails, and beaches sits along Lake Michigan and even features views of the Chicago skyline. Despite its urban proximity, the park boasts loads of solitude and is the 4th most biodiverse spot in the national park system (you bird watchers out there can see over 370 species of birds at Indiana Dunes!).

RVs for rent near Indiana Dunes National Park

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park

You might never get a guarantee of blue skies in this park, but your reward will come in the form of a rainforest ecosystem for you to explore. Olympic NP is bigger than Rhode Island and is mostly accessible via hiking trails.

So get that hiking gear ready to check out one of the most varied ecosystems in any of our national parks. We’re talking stomping grounds like 75 miles of undeveloped seashore, hot springs, rainforests, and glacier-covered mountains — all rolled into one park. 

You can drive up from Seattle via the 101 or catch a ferry out there

RVs for rent near Olympic National Park

BONUS: Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ontario Canada

Let’s not forget that some of the best national parks to visit this summer sit just north of the border. Fathom Five is a coastal oasis not far from Toronto where you can explore rare orchids and ancient rock formations. The scuba diving types among us can even swim around 24 historic shipwrecks in Georgian Bay.

RVs for rent near Fathom Five National Marine Park

These parks aren’t your average tourist traps – they’re the cool kids on the block, the off-the-beaten-path wonders that’ll leave you in awe. Let’s roll into a summer full of unforgettable memories in these incredible national parks. It’s time to make this summer one for the books!