When it comes to national parks, the west gets ample attention which is deserved, but the term “east coast national parks” seems to be left out in its shadows. National parks on the east coast have a lot of wild beauty and adventure-worthy parks to be explored.You might be surprised to know that even though the east coast doesn’t have a high number of national parks, America’s east offers a great variety of coral reefs, national monuments, stunning wetlands, national seashores, to gigantic mountain tops. It has plenty of picturesque spots, epic coastlines, underground labyrinths, unbelievable scenic drives, and much more.
The National Parks on the east coast of the U.S. range from tropical sand beaches, rocky mountain terrain, and endless forests. The national parks mentioned below will showcase all the best that the East Coast offers, which you do not want to miss!
If you haven’t added them to your bucket list, you soon will.
Here is the list of National Parks on the East Coast
1. Acadia National Park
The only national park in Maine, Acadia National Park, is the most visited United States. Nearly 2.5 million tourists come to see its stunning scenery. The highest point on the Atlantic coast is Cadillac Mountain, where people come for hiking. One of the interesting facts about Cadillac Mountain is that it has become the first place in the U.S. to catch the rays of the rising sun for half a year. Kayaking is also one of the popular sports enjoyed here.
You can start your journey from the 27 mile Park Loop Road as it will take you through all the major sights. You are stopping at Sand Beach to splash in the waves. Moving forward, you can try to go for a hike at Thunder Hole.
Extra Tip: To witness the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain, you’ll have to get there quickly because the spots fill up very quickly.
2. Biscayne National Park
Water is the life of this park situated in Florida. Why? Because 95% of this park is water. The astonishing beauty of this park can only be evident from water, so you can book a water boat or even rent a kayak or canoe. One can see Miami from atop of The Boca Chica Lighthouse.
If you enjoy diving, you can visit The Maritime Heritage Trail, where you can see many wrecked ships buried throughout the years. You can also sail through Stiltsville to stare at some series of shacks built on the bank.
Extra Tip: Never forget to bring mosquito repellent along with you. Usually, every year, hurricanes strike this park between June to November.
3. Shenandoah National Park
Located at the heart of Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah is the abode of black bears in the United States. Plenty of wildlife, craggy cliffs, and a variety of trees are spectators’ eye comforts. A go-to spot for someone who is fascinated by hiking. Driving through the famous Skyline Drive will bring beautiful leaf-peeping opportunities,
One of the most visited national parks east of the Mississippi River because of diversified caves and waterfalls sightings. Shenandoah is a paradise for nature lovers. Shenandoah is prominently famous for hiking to Blackrock Summit. Unforgettable views of mountains, quiet wooded hollows, and tumbling waterfalls lead to scenic outlooks. The Blue Ridge Parkway will appear in the park, and the best time to visit this place is in autumn!
Extra Tip: Please spend at least 2-3 days to hit more trials.
4. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is worldwide known for its 11 waterfalls, including Grotto, Abrams, and Laurel. Their diverse flora and fauna are distinct visuals with 200 species, 80 amphibians, and 67 fish varieties. Endless vistas of mountains and rolling hills fill the eye. You can go for a short trek on The Appalachian Trail or can enjoy the park bursting with vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows; seams might be seen.
But you can still enjoy several jaw-dropping scenic drives, including Cades Cove, Newfound Gap, and Roaring Fork Motor Trail. The tallest peak, Clingman’s Dome, is always a sight to have around 360 degrees top view.
Extra Tip: The best month to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park in late May till September. Try to go as early as possible because the park is crowded very quickly.
5. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
One of the newest national parks of North America, New River Gorge National Park, is located in West Virginia. The premier water rafting spot on the East Coast is filled with fishing spots, hiking trails, and more. The most prominent activity in this park is enjoying white water rafting. There are numerous trips and tours to go out for white water rafting daily.
The park is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit this park would be during autumn for the best weather and colors. Rock climbing is also one of the most opted activities, along with hiking here. You can plan to spend 2-4 days in this park to see the highlights, but you should plan to spend an entire week enjoying Fayetteville.
Extra Tip: I know summers are sweltering, but it is the best time to visit because the water generally remains calm during summer. It will allow you a better rafting experience.
6. Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is the best to enjoy kayaking, camping, and finishing. This national park is located in South Carolina. This park is famous for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. This park is best for someone who wants to walk around on the boardwalks with wheelchairs or strollers. You can also explore the park through rivers. Cedar Creek Canoe Trail will take you through the tallest trees of the East Coast. You can see turtles, alligators, and decent varieties of flora as well. The best time to visit Congaree National Park is during the Spring and Fall. Congaree’s forest has one of the highest temperature canopies globally, primarily deciduous forest, with an average height of about 100 feet.
Extra Tip: Congaree National Park has no lodging facilities inside the park premise. Though, the urban metropolitan area of Columbia is not too far for residential purposes.
7. Dry Tortugas National Park
Situated in the Gulf Of Mexico, Dry Tortugas has stunning beaches and arrays of activities in and out of the water. You can only visit Dry Tortugas National Park by seaplane or boat. This park is famous for its abundant sea, vibrant coral reef, white sand beaches, clean water, and extraordinary bird watching opportunities.
Scuba Diving is by far the best method to explore every corner of this park underwater. You don’t necessarily need to buy a tour guide; your gear will be enough to give you goosebumps and magical vibes. You will get many opportunities to see native creatures in large numbers and diversity. November till April is the perfect time to visit this park.
Extra Tip: You should carry safety equipment for indulging in any underwater sports. The best time to enjoy it is during mid-summer.
8. Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is situated in the west-central part of Kentucky.
Mammoth Cave National Park holds the UNESCO World Heritage Site title and is the most comprehensive cave system. You can witness rolling hills and deep river valleys. There are plenty of things to enjoy in this park; make sure to have a decent amount of time to roam around.
Mammoth Cave National Park has endless varieties of plants and animal life that earned it the International Biosphere Reserve title.
Extra Tip: You can also bring your horse or take guided tours.
9. Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is situated in Florida, U.S. It is home to one of the most extensive wetlands in the world.
Nine distinct habitats can be seen in the parks, such as pine Rocklands, coastal lowlands, and marine waters. The park is best known for its sawgrass prairies, mangroves, and freshwater slough that take water from Lake Okeechobee. American crocodiles and Florida panthers are some of the numerous species to have a glance at. This park is a paradise for birds because there have been 300 distinct species of birds found.
The tourists distinctly love alluring adventures, exotic animals, and mesmerizing sunsets.
The best time to visit Everglades National Park is between December to April.
Extra Tip: If you are planning your journey to Everglades National Park with your family, you should consider booking an airboat tour in the headwaters of the Everglades.
10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is situated in northeast Ohio, a famous city on the East Coast of the United States. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a destination for thousands of visitors every year. You can enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, stargazing, and fishing all at the same place as attractions and facilities in the park.
Brandywine Falls is the most popular tourist attraction spot in the park.
The Kendall Ledges Hiking Trail takes you through moss-covered cliffs, limestone caves, and gorgeous canopy-covered trails.
Over 900 plant species, 194 species of birds, 91 aquatic invertebrates, 43 fish, 22 amphibians, 32 mammals, and 20 species of reptiles are found in the park.
Extra Tip: The best time to visit this park is from Spring to fall. There are two on-site lodges that people choose to stay at, the Stanford House, and the other is the Inn at Brandywine Falls.
Frequently Asked Questions(faqs)
What are the best national parks on the East Coast USA?
-Some of the top national parks on the east coast are as follows.
- Acadia National Park.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- Shenandoah National Park.
- Everglades National Park.
- Congaree National Park.
- Biscayne National Park.
- New River Gorge National Park.
- Dry Tortugas National Park.
How many national parks are located on the East Coast?
There are more than 20 national parks on the east coast. Some of them are easy to travel while some are difficult to reach, but all of them are worth spending your vacation.
Why aren’t there more national parks on the East Coast?
Eastern states of the U.S. had less public land when the idea of building parks came out in action. Western states are way prettier in comparison to eastern states.