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    The Best National Park, Monument, Or Trail In Every Single State, According To People Who Live There

    There's so much to see if you know where to look.

    The US is filled with majestic national parks and historic monuments — and so many of them are absolutely worth checking out.

    Polaroid snapshots of all the major American national parks.
    Gary Yeowell / Getty Images

    Especially for those of us who are keeping our travels local.

    To aid in our hunt for the best national parks, trails, and monuments out there, we asked the BuzzFeed Community for their recommendations. Here are some of their top picks — as well as some of our own. If your favorite isn't on the list, leave it in the comments!

    1. Alabama: Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail

    A river surrounded by green foliage.
    Kevin Trimmer / Getty Images

    Running parallel to the 444-mile road of the same name, the Natchez Trace was historically used in the 1700s in the American journey westward. You'll see physical signs of this history in the "sunken" parts of the forest trail. Walking along this path, you'll get to treat yourself to 1,500 species of plants, 33 mammal species, 134 bird species, and more. 

    2. Alaska: Denali National Park and Preserve

    Snow-capped mountain peaks of Denali foregrounded by wildlife sitting on a smaller peak.
    Patrick J. Endres / Getty Images

    "Denali National Park, center of Alaska. Home to the largest mountain in all of North America, Mt. McKinley. (I prefer its native name, Mt. Denali.) Simply God's country!"

    amymatthewsp

    3. Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park

    Water coursing through the grand Canyon after sunset.
    Dean Fikar / Getty Images

    Look, there's a reason why the Grand Canyon is considered one of the wonders of the world. It took millions of years to form the mile-deep gorge that it's known for, and it's a sight to behold for all visitors. 

    4. Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

    Hot spring water dribbling down a rock formation in Hot Springs National Park.
    Ken Lund / Wikimedia / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Hot Springs is the nation's oldest national park, and it's known for — you guessed it — its 47 thermal springs. Various bathhouses, including eight historical bathhouses on Bathhouse Row, give visitors the chance to relax their muscles after an afternoon hiking in the area.

    5. California: Death Valley National Park

    A flat and desolate desert landscape has people walking over a boardwalk.
    buzzfeed.com

    "Death Valley National Park. Yes, the weather is brutal during summer, but going in the other seasons, you will find a place that is surprisingly diverse in ecosystems and geology. You can go from -282 feet at Badwater to 11,043 feet at Telescope Peak. It is also a very large park with countless possibilities for exploration. I've been there a dozen times, and it is never ridiculously crowded like some other parks." 

    zwood320

    6. Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    An ominous dark cloud looms over the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park.
    Starcevic / Getty Images

    "The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado is one the greatest sites I have ever seen. The Grand Canyon has nothing on this!" —theresaj4651171b3

    7. Connecticut: Appalachian National Scenic Trail

    Two people wearing hiking boots walk through a sunny Appalachian trail.
    Cavan Images / Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

    The Appalachian Trail, a national scenic trail and historical hiking route taken by millions of people every year, rivals the breadth of many national parks out there. Fun fact: Just 500 people hike the entire trail every year.  

    8. Delaware: Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

    A clear and calm part of the Chesapeake bay is foregrounded by dry shrubbery.
    Okrad / Getty Images

    Based on John Smith's map and written accounts, this all-water trail covers 3,000 miles of Chesapeake's rivers. You can paddle, sail, or motor and along the way, discover where many Native American communities once lived, and where several are still thriving. Tip: Use the native land tool to see which tribal land you're traversing. 

    9. District of Columbia: Lincoln Memorial Monument

    Bkamprath / Getty Images

    History buffs will love venturing into the many memorials and monuments that fill the District of Columbia. But perhaps none are as iconic as the Lincoln Memorial monument, a national symbol of freedom and democracy that draws visitors from all over the world. Check out these pictures of the monument (and its sort-of-secret underground chamber) from more than a century ago

    10. Florida: Everglades National Park

    Two people on a canoe paddle through the everglades with sunshine illuminating the mid-afternoon fog around them.
    Douglas Rissing / Getty Images

    "I live five minutes from the Everglades, and Everglades National Park is an incredibly peaceful place stocked with wildlife. It’s the lifeblood of our state. We are so lucky here in South Florida to have gorgeous beaches and to be so close to big cities, Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, etc. But do yourself a favor and take an air boat ride in the Glades. There is nowhere like it."

    kminfl

    11. Georgia: Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park

    A boardwalk cuts through a grassy area toward the Ocmulgee Mounds.
    Posnov / Getty Images

    Over 10 millennia of Native American culture can be found at this site, which consists of ceremonial mounds, burial grounds, and defensive trenches. Beautiful and impressive feats of engineering, these earthworks will be like nothing you've seen before. 

    12. Hawaii: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

    Waves crash around a rocky arch that juts out from the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
    Ferrantraite / Getty Images

    "Beautiful."

    smokeyandvv

    13. Idaho: Yellowstone National Park

    A river courses through the jagged canyon of Yellowstone National Park while clouds loom above.
    Danielle Bednarczyk / Getty Images

    The first national park in the US, Yellowstone stretches for 3,500 miles across three states, including Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It's known for its vast untouched (but clearly well-kept) natural landscape and wildlife, and has deservedly earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    14. Illinois: Pullman National Monument

    The Pullman monument, a stark, old, dilapidated building, stands in the middle of a cemented park.
    Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

    This newly designated national monument commemorates Pullman District, the nation's first planned community. Created by George Pullman, a sleeping car magnate, the community was designed as a "company town" that housed the factory's employees. If you paid attention in your US History class, you might also be familiar with the Pullman strike that occurred there, one of the nation's biggest labor strikes in history. 

    15. Indiana: Indiana Dunes National Park

    A person with a hat paddles through a body of water in Indiana Dunes Park.
    Daniel Boczarski

    Spanning a lake, a woods, a marsh, a prairie, and so many other diverse geographic areas, Indiana Dunes is an adventurous way to explore the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Fun fact: The Dunes were created as a result of glaciers that receded north 10,000 years ago. 

    16. Iowa: Effigy Mounds National Monument

    A sgn reads, "Effigy Mounds National Monument" and points in the direction of the " headquarters, visitor center, museum"
    Fdastudillo / Getty Images

    You don't have to be flying to appreciate Effigy Mounds, which are earthen mounds shaped like animals, birds, and reptiles. Although effigy mounds can be found across the US, there's no greater concentration of them than here in Iowa, where some of the oldest mounds have been dated to 450 BCE

    17. Kansas: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

    A person with their back turned looks out onto the serene Tallgrass Prairie.
    Eddie Brady / Getty Images

    There's a reason why Tallgrass Prairie makes up an integral part of the Americana imagination. Starting with the Native Americans that first used bison to roam the prairies, to the Americans that passed through during the westward expansion, to the modern-day Americans that transformed it into farmland, this grassland has been the foundation of the American experience. 

    18. Kentucky: Mammoth Cave National Park

    Steps lead out of the mouth of Mammoth cave as water falls down from the top.
    Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

    Home to the world's longest known cave system (it's got more than 400 miles of passageways), Mammoth Cave is a must-see for every American and nature lover out there. If you're interested in paranormal activity, you're also in for a treat: More than 150 paranormal activities have been recorded in the caves. 

    19. Louisiana: Poverty Point National Monument

    Stone steps lead toward the top of Poverty Point national monument.
    Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Consisting of a giant 72-foot-tall mound and enormous concentric half-circles, the earthworks that make up Poverty Point are considered an opus of engineering brilliance today. That's because the site was constructed entirely by native American hands — without the use of carts, animals, or other tools. Some estimate that it was a product of 5 million hours of labor.  

    20. Maine: Acadia National Park

    Large boulders dot the surface of a lake in Acadia national park.
    buzzfeed.com

    "Acadia National Park in Maine, USA! I’ve been lucky enough to go several times in my life so far, and each time I’m amazed by the beauty of the mountains and the peace it brings my soul! The air smells like sun-warmed pine needles and blueberries, and the views are incredible. Even if it’s a foggy day and the views are obscured, the hikes are still worth it because of the beauty of the rocks themselves and how fun the hikes are. 

    There’s a swimming spot called Ike’s Point on Echo Lake, and it is seriously my favorite place to swim EVER. You have to scramble down some steep rocks to get to the water, but it is absolutely worth it to get to swim in the most refreshing water ever, surrounded by gorgeous, tree-covered mountains. If Heaven is real and I make it there, it will be an eternal vacation to Acadia National Park with my family. 💚💙 (The picture is from the Jordan Pond area in the park, BTW)."

    juniorbizarre

    21. Maryland: Harriet Tubman National Historical Park

    A woman looks out of fence toward Steward's Canal.
    National Park Service / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    Learn all about the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman — who helped secure the safe passage of slaves on the Underground Railroad — and visit the home where she grew up, the plantation where she spent her early years, and a museum chronicling her life. Then, check out Stewart's Canal, a 7-mile canal dug by hand by free and enslaved African Americans.

    22. Massachusetts: Cape Cod National Seashore

    Various cacti and dried brush foreground the view of a beach in Cape Cod.
    Ronald Wilson Photography / Getty Images

    Beautiful bike trails, some of the best beaches on Cape Cod, and sunsets that visitors call "magical" await at the national seashore. For further indulgence, you can go view charming lighthouses, explore some nature trails, and partake in some of the best seafood on the East Coast.

    23. Michigan: Isle Royale National Park

    A textured lake surface foregrounds a view of Isle Royale.
    Posnov / Getty Images

    "In a baffling move by the Department of the Interior, Michigan (despite being what I would argue is the most beautiful state in the union) has only one national park: Isle Royale. Located over 50 miles into Lake Superior — and closer to Canada than Michigan — this island is extremely remote and only accessible by ferry. The wooded island is complete with inland lakes, forests, and a rocky coast — making it an ideal spot for hiking, camping, and kayaking. Beware, though. There are wolves living on the island, and with over 200 square miles, if you get into trouble, it might take a while for help to arrive."   

    Matthew Huff

    24. Minnesota: Voyageurs National Park

    A man sits on a large boulder while looking out onto the dark and starry skies of Voyageurs national park.
    Per Breiehagen / Getty Images

    Straddling the Canadian border and accessible exclusively by boat, this national park takes the cake for having one of the most magical evening skies. If you visit during the fall or winter, there's a good chance you'll get to see the mystical northern lights

    25. Mississippi: Gulf Islands National Seashore

    A wave crashes onto a beach of Gulf Islands seashore.
    Brian Keith Lorraine / Getty Images

    Consisting of some mainland and parts of seven islands, this protected area consists of marshes, wilderness islands, a historic fort, and smaller islands only accessible via private boat. If isolation and beautiful sunsets are what you're craving, then Gulf Islands is it. 

    26. Missouri: Gateway Arch National Park

    A sunny and clear sky lights up the Gateway Arch.
    Photo By Mike Kline (notkalvin) / Getty Images

    This iconic St. Louis monument commemorates Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental United States and is the tallest structure in Missouri. Of course, it's not a national park in the classic sense, but the 90 urban acres it covers are still historically significant and worth a trip. 

    27. Montana: Glacier National Park

    Glacier National Park's mountains are mirrored on the lake surface.
    buzzfeed.com

    "Glacier National Park gets my vote. Yellowstone is another obvious choice, but only a small part is in Montana." —cofbob

    28. Nebraska: Agate Fossil Beds

    Dried brush and grassy plains lead up to the raised Agate fossil beds.
    Posnov / Getty Images

    Explore a 20-million-year-old fossil site where paleontologists once discovered a rich trove of Miocene Epoch mammal (not dinosaur!) bones. After, you can hop over to the visitor center to see life-size depictions of extinct animals like the delicate Stenomylus, or the Beardog.  

    29. Nevada: Great Basin National Park

    Multi-toned layers accent Great Basin national park's mountains.
    Cavan Images / Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

    "Great Basin National Park is the most beautiful!"

    mamasquatch4

    30. New Hampshire: Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park

    31. New Jersey: Paterson Great Falls

    A waterfall thunders down into a river below, while a charming bridge lets visitors view from above.
    Barry Winiker / Getty Images

    Most East Coast folk know Niagara Falls, but often overlook the amazing Paterson Great Falls, the second biggest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. And unlike Niagara, Paterson Great Falls are lauded for their year-round beauty and ability to captivate spectators from every angle. 

    32. New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

    White clouds hang over the rough peak of Carlsbad Caverns' mountains. Dried brush accentuates the frontmost space.
    Daniel A. Leifheit / Getty Images

    "New Mexico native here: Carlsbad Caverns National Park is my top place to recommend :)."

    luhluhlena

    33. New York: African Burial Ground National Monument

    A sign identifying the African Burial Ground national monument hovers in front of an impeccably trimmed grassy area. A dark, marble monument looms over the grass.
    Keith Getter / Moment Editorial / Getty Images

    This austere historical monument honors the 20,000 free and enslaved Africans who were buried on this 6.6-acre plot from the 1690s until 1794. Its seven earthen mounds remind visitors of the role that slaves played in building New York, with a quote on the monument reading, "For all those who were lost; for all those who were stolen; for all those who were left behind; for all those who were not forgotten."

    34. North Carolina and Tennessee: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    A hiker walks over the boulders that dot the roaring river in Great Smoky Mountains national park.
    Ll28 / Getty Images

    "It’s so beautiful."

    audreys4a6196a57

    35. North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

    Various bison graze on a flat grassy area. Perfectly spaced white clouds dot a clear afternoon sky.
    Jeffgoulden / Getty Images

    Named after the former president who once resided in the area, this hidden gem of a park spans dramatic canyons, beautiful multicolored rock formations, and sweeping plains. It's also a habitat for bison, elk, and prairie dogs, and attracts nature and animal lovers alike. 

    36. Ohio: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

    A tall waterfall rushes over a worn out rock formation, made up of flat layers of various thickness. Lush bushes and leaves surround the waterfall.
    Zack Frank / Getty Images/500px Plus

    Located just a short drive away from Cleveland, Ohio, this national park is famous for its 60-foot Brandywine Falls, as well as its rolling hills and open farmlands. If you're a fan of horseback riding, there are plenty of marked trails here that'll let you experience the rural landscape from some height.

    37. Oklahoma: Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

    38. Oregon: John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

    Voluptuous, curvy, indented mountains made up of multicolored sedimentary layers accentuate the John Day Fossil Beds.
    By Kurt Stricker / Getty Images

    "The painted hills at John Day, Oregon, are stunning. Crater Lake is also breathtakingly beautiful."

    luckylucy399

    39. Pennsylvania: Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

    Matt Coulon / Getty Images/500px Plus

    Seven hundred miles of trails run across Pennsylvania and three other states, with a river that leads the way and winds over cliffs, falls, and wooded paths. 

    40. Rhode Island: Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park

    A close-up of a perfectly straight waterfall coursing down. Autumn foliage dresses up the trees behind.
    James Marshall / Getty Images

    Known as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, Blackstone River Valley takes people to the source of water power that started it all, to Slater Mill, the first water-powered cotton-spinning factory that effectively moved the labor force from farm to factory. This lush area is also replete with hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities that take people from Rhode Island to Massachussetts. 

    41. South Carolina: Congaree National Park

    A swampy and lush forest of hardwood trees in Congaree national park.
    Ericfoltz / Getty Images

    This national park consists of the largest untouched population of hardwood trees — a special type of forest that thrives in flooded conditions. To explore the area, you can either walk on over 2.4 miles of boardwalk, or take a kayak and paddle through

    42. South Dakota: Badlands National Park

    43. Tennessee: Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

    Rivernorthphotography / Getty Images

    This historical passageway was once used by Native Americans as a game trail, and later by early settlers expanding to the West. When the park was established, it was commemorated as the "first doorway of the West." Today, over 70 miles of trails and guided tours through the "underground cathedral" known as Gap Cave await travelers. 

    44. Texas: Big Bend National Park

    A still body of water lays below the dry Chisos Mountais of Big Bend.
    buzzfeed.com

    "Big Bend National Park is a beautiful one. Views to die for, and it is soooo remote that it's perfect to spend a week there and not worry about anything." 

    chachi41096

    45. Utah: Bryce Canyon National Park

    A tiny moon on top of the skyline looks down onto the trees-lined, sparse rock formations of Bryce Canyon.
    buzzfeed.com

    "My favorite is definitely Bryce Canyon in Utah. The views are absolutely jaw-dropping and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I recommend hiking the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Trail (about 3 miles round trip) starting on Wall Street. You get to scale the canyon down, and then you are completely surrounded by the beautiful hoodoos all around you. Absolutely breathtaking. And if you ever do visit Bryce, you should definitely leave the park by taking Utah Highway 12. That road alone should be a national park in my opinion, and it also leads to Capitol Reef National Park, which is also magnificent." 

    aaliahanif

    46. Vermont: North Country National Scenic Trail

    47. Virginia: Shenandoah National Park

    A fog ocean blankets the forests of Shenandoah national park.
    Beklaus / Getty Images

    Topping the list as one of the best national parks on the East Coast, Shenandoah brings in Appalachian Trail walkers as well as hikers who can name their favorite trails here. The foggy evenings can feel ethereal, and if you're lucky, you might even get to see a "fog ocean" gliding over mountain peaks like a nebulous blanket. 

    48. Washington: Olympic National Park

    A shaded and moss-covered area of Olympic National Park.
    Naphat Photography / Getty Images

    "Washingtonian here. I travel a ton, but I have to say, Olympic National Park is the best!"

    hendersonstella324

    49. West Virginia: Harpers Ferry National Historic Park

    An aerial shot of Harpers Ferry that shows off the two bridges, charming buildings, and the surrounding green areas.
    Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

    This charming town was the site of many historical events, including John Brown’s abolitionist raid, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the meeting place for the Niagara Movement, an organization led by W.E.B. Du Bois that called for the political rights of African Americans. It's also the nexus of both the Appalachian and the Potomac Heritage trails, and over 22 miles of hiking trails you can explore to combine a weekend of history with nature.

    50. Wisconsin: Ice Age National Scenic Trail

    51. Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park

    Tall pine trees surround a lightly ruffled body of water, while a snow-capped mountain peak stands in the background.
    buzzfeed.com

    "For the fall season, I'd recommend Grand Teton National Park. Beautiful colors and snow peak mountains. Jackson Hole is also a wonderful town to explore. Be sure to check out Schwabacher Landing for a picture-perfect view!" 

    mk28zimm

    52. American Samoa: National Park of American Samoa

    Underwater view of sea plant life. The top half of the picture shows off the mountains and clouds above.
    Tandem Stills + Motion / Getty Images

    "National Park of American Samoa: the only US National Park south of the equator, and stunningly beautiful."

    amandamills

    Disclaimer: This article was written to provide travel recommendations or suggestions; however, it’s important to keep in mind your own health, community health, and COVID-19 exposure risk.

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