The best national parks for hiking in the United States

What’s so great about backpacking is that backpacks are easy to bring along on any kind of trip! Whether for travels to major cities or hikes in the wildlife, backpacking is always a convenient option. In the US, you can even combine the life in the big and vibrant cities with a camping trip in the untouched and amazing nature in one trip. The following national parks make a perfect destination if you are on a city vacation and are longing for some fresh air, since they are situated just a few hours’ drive from major cities in the US, where HostelsClub offers great low cost accommodation.

San Diego to Joshua Tree National Park (3 h drive)

Joshua Tree National Park,

Photo by Merton Wilton on flickr

Joshua tree national park in the Southwestern United States is named after the Yucca brevifolia, the Joshua tree, which is endemic to this region. These unique trees leave pieces of hollow bark everywhere on the ground, and together with the special formations of rocks everywhere in the area, this national park offers a once in a lifetime experience. It features nine camping grounds which you can reach by car.There are several hiking and climbing trails within the park, some of which are shorter and allow you to view the famous landscape without wandering far out in the desert. For wildlife enthusiasts there are over 250 species of birds to spot, as well as many different reptiles, coyotes, squirrels and black-tailed jackrabbits. However, maybe the most spectacular reason as to why you should visit this national park, is the night sky. You will be left breath taken from the exceptional stargazing you can do here, thanks to the light pollution and the dark skies above the park.

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Salt Lake City to Yellowstone National Park (5 h drive)

Yellowstone National Park

Photo by manufrakass on flickr

Even though Salt Lake City is quite a long drive away from Yellowstone National Park, it is a scenic route and will definitely become a part of your astonishing hiking experience here. Once at your goal, you will be in one of USA’s most visited national parks. But don’t let this cause any hesitation – the park is 8,983.2 square km large, ensuring a low risk of your wildlife experience being interrupted by overcrowded trails. The area of Yellowstone has a very extensive history, and while hiking here you will be walking the same paths as Native Americans did already 11000 years ago. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, you can appreciate a wide range of natural wonders, from canyons, volcanoes and natural bridges, to lakes, waterfalls, rivers, springs and geysers here. You can surely spend weeks in this area offering natural wonders you have probably never even heard of before. For instance, the bottom of the Yellowstone lake is hydro-thermally active and in the national park you can experience the petrified forest, containing magical, and almost a bit spooky, trees that have been fossilized.

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Miami to Biscayne National Park (15 min drive)

Biscayne National Park

Photo by Marty:FM on flickr

For the backpackers who prefer a warmer climate and more underwater adventures than climbing or hiking, Biscayne national park in Florida is a highly recommended spot, as merely 5 % of the park consists of land. The most common activities of this park include kayaking, snorkeling, fishing. windsurfing and scuba diving. The waters of the national park are home to hundreds of species, and there are several shipwrecks on the bottom of the ocean, making it a paradise for scuba divers. However, you can also visit the park while staying on dry land, since there are plenty of islands and hiking trails. By the shoreline, the typical mangroves are growing, and perhaps you will even have the chance to spot the American Crocodile from there. The park is home to many endangered species, and especially in the water, you will have a chance to see a range of wild animals from exuberantly colored fish in the coral reefs, lobsters and see turtles to mammals like dolphins and manatees.

While on your trip to Miami, you will also have the chance to visit the Everglades national park, which is bigger and more commonly visited, and where you can go hiking in the home of the Florida panther, american crocodile and the west Indian manatee.

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San Fransisco to Yosemite National Park (5 h drive)

Yosemite National Park

Photo by Phae on flickr

If hiking is your big passion, Yosemite is surely already on your bucket list, as the park provides the most amazing backdrop for a hiking trip. With extravagant mountains and waterfalls, every part of your hike will offer a wonderful scene, lasting in your memory for ever. The most popular place to visit is the Yosemite Valley, which can easily be visited just for a one day trip, and contains famous sights such as Yosemite Falls, Half Dome and El Capitan. You can enjoy viewing the many adventurers practicing climbing on the steep granite cliffs in this area. Considered to be the most massive living thing on Earth by volume, are the giant Secoya trees growing here, Growing up to 83.8 m tall (The General Sherman is the largest, found in Sequoia National Park) and with a circumference of around 30 meters, these trees make a massive and astonishing impression.

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New York to Acadia National Park (8h drive)

Acadia National Park

Photo by Captain Kimo on flickr

Everybody knows that it’s almost impossible to feel the need for a break from this lively city, as it offers way more to see, do and experience than you could ever manage, even on a vacation of several weeks. However, if you can part ways with New York and travel to Acadia for a few days, it will definitely not be a decision to regret. Once there, you will be in a paradise of forests, mountains, lakes and ocean, offering beautiful panorama views and 120 miles of hiking trails of different difficulty. The park is home to the only fjord in the US, as well as around 40 species of mammals, and you will also be able to spot some of the marine species inhabiting the ocean around this park. Furthermore, it offers a wide variety of leisure activities such as canoeing, kayaking, biking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, golfing and fishing.

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