The Ultimate Guide to North America’s National (and Provincial) Parks

Driven by an insatiable desire to wander, we meticulously compile lists of places we want to visit, each destination promising an experience so captivating that we can’t help but imagine returning for more.

In our journey to capture the best National Parks to explore in 2023, we’ve not only highlighted the treasures within the United States but also a few of Canada’s most exquisite Provincial and National Parks, stretching from the rugged beauty of British Columbia to the untamed wilderness of Newfoundland. The splendor of these parks transcends boundaries, reminding us that nature’s wonders know no limits.

Each park has a unique charm and beauty that sets it apart. How can one compare the dramatic vistas of Banff to the untouched landscapes of Jasper or weigh the allure of Acadia against the allure of Great Smoky Mountains? They are all exceptional, making it impossible to make a wrong choice.

Wherever life leads you, chances are there is a park nearby, awaiting your discovery and promising a connection with nature like no other. Consider booking an RV or choosing to stay with Outdoorsy, allowing the celebration of National Park Week to extend far beyond its designated time, opening doors to remarkable journeys throughout the year.

Canada’s Provincial and National Parks

Welcome to the Great Canadian Wilderness, where over 1,000 provincial and national parks await your adventurous spirit! A vast playground spanning an astonishing 10 million acres, each territory holds its own natural wonders just begging to be discovered. So, grab your map, gear up, and let’s set our sights on some of the most captivating parks that have us utterly mesmerized!

Jasper National Park

1. Jasper National Park in Alberta

Known for its velvety, starry heavens, Jasper National Park is the world’s second-largest dark sky preserve. Winter is especially spectacular in this glacially-shaped region. A dozen miles of trails for biking and hiking are easily accessible from campgrounds. This park is also known for its wildlife traffic, from grizzly bears to bighorn sheep.

Points of interest: Maligne Canyon, Athabasca Falls, and Icefields Parkway

Book an RV near Jasper National Park

2. Yoho National Park in British Columbia

Located near the iconic topaz Lake Louise, Yoho National Park is open year-round. In the Indigenous language of Cree spoken in the Canadian Rockies, yoho means “awe” or “wonder.” Activities there include discovering Burgess Shale fossils on a guided hike, cross-country skiing on designated trails, and the usual camping, hiking, birdwatching, and sightseeing. 

Points of interest: Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake, and Wapta Falls

Book an RV near Yoho National Park

Gros Morne National Park

3. Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland 

Geology geeks and general naturalists alike will be in awe at Gros Morne National Park, a diverse landscape that includes a freshwater fjord, a colorful coastal village, and an exposed piece of the Earth’s mantle (the Tablelands). Trek up Gros Morne Mountain to see wildflowers and panoramic views, or settle in for a day cruise to spot waterfalls and birds.

Points of interest: The Tablelands, Western Brook Pond, and Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse

Book an RV near Gros Morne National Park

4. Fathom Five National Marine Park in Ontario

Nestled between Bruce Peninsula’s limestone cliffs and the small fishing village of Tobermory, Fathom Five National Marine Park is an idyllic coastal haven. Just off the shore and under the water’s surface, scuba divers can explore a smattering of 24 shipwrecks in the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. This freshwater ecosystem also has ancient rock formations and rare orchid species.

Points of interest: Flowerpot Island, Little Cove Beach, and Big Tub Lighthouse

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Whale in the ocean

5. Forillon National Park in Québec

The colors of the foliage and flora in Forillon National Park are a constantly changing rainbow. Located on the northeast tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, visitors can spend all day watching the waves at the end of the Grande-Grave wharf, and if they’re lucky, catch sight of a blue whale swimming through the temperate waters. Activities include kayaking, hiking, and cruising.

Points of interest: Fort Peninsula, Gaspé Bay, and La Chute Trail

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National Parks in the U.S.

Buckle up, adventure enthusiasts! The U.S.’s National Park System is an absolute wonderland, boasting a staggering 424 sites that sprawl across a jaw-dropping 84 million acres. And guess what? It’s not just confined to the 50 states; it even stretches its arms to embrace Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. Talk about a truly colossal playground of epic proportions!

White Sands National Park

1. White Sands National Park in New Mexico

Once a monument and now a National Park, White Sands is 275 square miles of blinding white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. There’s nowhere else like it. Slide down the sparkling sand on a sled, hike into the backcountry, practice your nature photography, drive an 8-mile scenic road, or pedal the pavement for unobstructed views. 

Points of interest: Visitor Center, Dune Life Nature Trail, and Dunes Drive

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2. Yosemite National Park in California

You know it (or of it). You love it. Tucked into a valley of polished granite walls and powerful waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is its own special paradise in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. You could spend a whole month in this valley and not see everything. Hike all day, spend time in the campground, or take a driving tour. Every turn offers something spectacular.

Bonus: Visit our very own campground, Outdoorsy Yosemite, for an unforgettable stay near the park. Outdoorsy Yosemite offers camping, glamping, and RV sites right on Bass Lake – a water rec mecca that’s mere minutes from the national park. 

Points of interest: Mirror Lake, Tuolumne Meadows, and Yosemite Falls

Don’t have an RV of your own? Have one delivered and set up at Outdoorsy Yosemite.

Crater Lake National Park

3. Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

Best in the summer when the weather mellows out, Crater Lake National Park is much more than a crater full of rainwater and snow melt. The park is an impressive illustration of the area’s violent volcanic past dating back 7,700 years ago. The blue lake is a shade of its own kind. Other than the scenic rim drive, highlights include hiking trails and ranger-led programs.

Points of interest: Wizard Island, Discovery Point, and Cleetwood Cove Trail

Book an RV near Crater Lake National Park

4. Everglades National Park in Florida

A swampy refuge for manatees, crocodiles, turtles, and even panthers, Everglades National Park is a lush green gem on Florida’s southern tip. This internationally-recognized site will surely give any visitor an appreciation for nature’s miracles. Fishing, boating, touring, hiking, and cycling are some of the best ways to see the park. 

Points of interest: Shark Valley Tram Tour, Pahayokee Overlook, and Coastal Prairie Trail

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Rock wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

5. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado

Over two million years, the Gunnison River and other forces of nature carved out this vertical wilderness. The steep canyon walls look intimidating, but Black Canyon of the Gunnison is open for all levels of adventure. Stay on the North and South Rims for easy trails and sweeping scenery. Or head to the canyon’s inner sanctum for a remote challenge. Seriously, it’s no joke. 

And if you happen to be headed to points further south, check out Outdoorsy Durango – an RVing and glamping haven that’ll put you at the footsteps of places like The San Juan Mountains, Pagosa Springs, and Mesa Verde National Park.

Points of interest: Rim Rock Nature Trail, Curecanti National Recreation Area, and Sunset View

Book an RV near Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Now, we could go on and on for a million words, but let’s keep it action-packed and thrilling with our top 10 park picks! Oh, but wait, there’s more! If you’re hungry for even more National Park magic, we’ve got a whole bunch of other blogs waiting for you:  10 other parks you just have to visit, the do’s and don’ts of visiting the parks, and the most popular parks for RVs.