When you first think of our nation’s glorious national parks, you may picture the great national parks of the west with their grand vistas and towering sequoias. However, the eastern region of the U.S. boasts many wonderful national parks to enjoy. Take a look at our favorite well-known parks and hidden gems of the eastern U.S.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia offers gorgeous coastal and mountain features, including the highest peek on the Atlantic seaboard. In a pristine setting that was once the playground of American plutocrats, visit beaches, lakes, forests and tidal estuaries. Be sure to see Cadillac Mountain with its stupendous views, Schoodic Point, and drive Park Loop Road, one of the very best scenic drives in the USA.
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
Dry Tortugas is as far off the East coast as you can get and still be in a National Park. Take the boat ride out to the fabulous and impressive old Fort Jackson. Snorkel amid the fish in the vivid blue waters. Sun on the secluded beach. This is the ultimate get away from it all National Park. Just remember to take everything you need along with you.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
This beautiful park offers hiking along the river. Or take the scenic train to see the historic houses and beautiful old bridges. Brandywine Falls is picturesque and popular. Head for Kendall Lake, the Ledges, or Blue Hen Falls. Take a hike on the Towpath Trail from Boston to Peninsula through Stumpy Basin.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina & Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains hold a timeless allure, with their rolling undulations and the hanging clouds and mists that give them their named. The park straddles two great states. Roaring Fork provides a beautiful, scenic and peaceful drive. Clingmans Dome offers a stimulating climb and marvelous views. Chimney Tops is also a favorite hike.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mammoth Cave is big, breathtaking and beautiful below ground, with fabulous formations to explore. The cave will encircle your imagination. The history is as thrilling as the evocatively named chambers. Above ground, the natural setting is peaceful and serene.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
The name evokes the wonderful folk song that speaks of this grand valley of Virginia and its majestic beauty. Dive the Skyline Drive, visit Dark Hollow Falls or Rose River Falls. The heart of the park is Big Meadows, be sure to see it. If you like to hike, head down the Appalachian Trail to Mill Prong Trail and the idyllic and historic US presidential retreat, Camp Hoover, at the headwaters of the Rapidan River. There are also daily van trips to the camp.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
This park offers you the remoteness of the biggest island in the biggest Great Lake. There is plenty of room to explore this island with its beaches, shipwrecks, and enjoy the habitat of loons, snowshoe hares, moose and wolves. Hint: be sure to do the Tobin Harbor Canoe to the Lookout Louise. Sign up for the ranger programs. Do the 4.2 mile loop trail to Scoville Point, and take the Sandy Boat Tour to Passage Island and Edisen Fishery and the Lighthouse.
Everglades National Park, Florida
This is tropical USA at its best, with the immense skies and waterways. Be sure to visit it by boat. You will expect the alligators but be surprised by the dolphins who are friendly and curious. Stroll the Anhinga Trail and take the tram tour to visit Shark Valley. The Royal Palm Visitors Center provides a nice taste of the Everglades.
Biscayne National Park, Florida
So close to the glittery bustle of Miami and yet so calm and compelling. You are bound to see wildlife here that includes rare and protected species, manatee, sea turtles, and overhead, the peregrine falcon. This park is best explored by water, so book a private charter to enjoy its riparian charms.
Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Walk the boardwalks to see the old growth floodplain forest—the biggest in the USA. Take the Boardwalk Loop for your own self guided exploration of this otherworldly forest. You will be among giants—many of the trees are among the tallest in the Eastern part of the USA.