Travel Tips
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10 U.S. National Parks Worth Exploring

June 25, 2024
Alexis Miller

If you're seeking adventure, breathtaking landscapes, and unforgettable experiences, the U.S. national parks have it all. What the U.S. lacks in architecture, art and history, it more than makes up for in its natural spaces. Each park offers unique features, from geysers and canyons to lush forests and coastal cliffs. 

This guide will take you through the top 10 national parks based on annual visitors, helping you decide which parks to add to your travel bucket list. We’ll also go over safety tips for spending time in the great outdoors. Lastly, we’ll discuss why you should buy a virtual SIM card for your trip to the U.S. and its national parks. 

What is a “National Park?”

A "National Park" is a protected area established and managed by the U.S. government to preserve its natural environment, wildlife, and cultural heritage for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of present and future generations. Here are some key characteristics of national parks:

  1. Government Designation: National parks are officially designated by the U.S. government through legislation or executive action.
  2. Conservation Focus: The primary goal is to preserve natural and cultural resources, including landscapes, flora and fauna, and historical sites.
  3. Public Access: National parks are generally open to the public, providing opportunities for recreation such as hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and educational activities.
  4. Regulated Use: Activities within national parks are regulated to minimize human impact and ensure the protection of natural and cultural resources. This often includes restrictions on development, resource extraction, and certain recreational activities.
  5. Research and Education: National parks often serve as sites for scientific research and environmental education, helping to increase public awareness and understanding of natural and cultural heritage.

In the United States, the National Park Service (NPS), a federal agency within the Department of the Interior, manages national parks and other protected areas, ensuring their preservation and accessibility for future generations.

Yellowstone National Park

Location: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho

Annual Visitors: Approximately 4 million

Highlights: Yellowstone National Park is likely one of the most well-known national parks in the world. It boasts 2.2 million acres of land and contains about half of the world’s active geysers. The most notable is Old Faithful, which spouts off at regular intervals to the delight of visitors. In addition to the geothermal activity, wildlife is abundant (bison, elk, grizzly bears, wolves), and the “Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone” is a marvel. 

Best Time to Visit: For fewer crowds and milder weather, consider visiting from April to May or September to October.

Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Arizona

Annual Visitors: Approximately 5.9 million

Highlights: As the name suggests, the primary attraction of this park is the Grand Canyon. It encompasses 278 miles of the Colorado River and adjacent lands. It is one of the grandest examples of erosion anywhere in the world. Notable viewpoints include Mather Point and Yavapai Observation Station. There are many opportunities to hike and every year, people make their way through the canyon on the Colorado River. 

Best Time to Visit: For pleasant temperatures and fewer tourists, consider visiting from March to May or September to November.

Yosemite National Park

Location: California

Annual Visitors: Approximately 4.4 million

Highlights: Yosemite National Park is a well-known subject of the late photographer Ansel Adams and a haven for rock climbing. Its granite cliffs – the two most notable being El Capitan and Half Dome – are iconic park giants. In addition to the rock faces, Yosemite is known for its waterfalls (like Yosemite Falls) and its giant sequoia trees. Much like Yellowstone, Yosemite is home to diverse wildlife. 

Best Time to Visit: May to September offers the best weather to accessing roads and trails. But, this is also a popular season; reservations may be required to access the park.

Being able to check weather conditions and park closures on the go is handy. The best eSIM app will allow you to do just that! 

Zion National Park

Location: Utah

Annual Visitors: Approximately 4.5 million

Highlights: Known as “Utah’s First National Park,” Zion is home to many iconic natural wonders, including Zion Canyon, Angels Landing and The Narrows. The red rock formations that cover the park look other-worldly and provide ample hiking, scrambling and biking opportunities. 

Best Time to Visit: For milder weather and fewer crowds, consider visiting April to May or September to November.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Location: North Carolina, Tennessee

Annual Visitors: Approximately 12.1 million

Highlights: America’s most-visited park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. It, too, has diverse plant and wildlife, which find home in the lush forests and mist-covered mountains. Historic buildings dot the land and South Appalachian culture permeates the area. Notably, about 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail – a famous thru-hike – runs through this park.

Best Time to Visit: The most spectacular times of the year are September to November (for fall foliage) and April to May (for blooming wildflowers).

North America eSIM Plans

Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: Colorado

Annual Visitors: Approximately 4.5 million

Highlights: Rocky Mountain National Park is considered “a land of extremes,” thanks to its range of mountainous environments. Over 300 miles of hiking crisscrosses this park, leading visitors to Alpine lakes, the peaks of rugged mountains and past wildlife like elk and bighorn sheep. 

Best Time to Visit: Visitors should plan a visit from June to September for accessible trails and scenic drives.

Glacier National Park

Location: Montana

Annual Visitors: Approximately 3 million

Highlights: Though its name suggests it’s located somewhere colder – like Alaska – Glacier National Park is located in Montana. It boasts over 700 miles of hiking trails, bringing visitors to glaciers and pristine lakes. During certain times of the year, visitors can drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which offers scenic views of the park. Wildlife like mountain goats and grizzly bears call this park home, and visitors should mind their distance. 

Best Time to Visit: For fully open roads and trails, visit from July to September.

Acadia National Park

Location: Maine

Annual Visitors: Approximately 3.4 million

Highlights: Known as the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast,” this park offers an abundance of coastal scenery and habitats. There are 27 miles of historic motor roads and 158 miles of hiking trails. Additionally, there are 45 miles of carriage roads – pathways made for non-motorized vehicles that align with the contours of the land – a unique characteristic of this park. 

Best Time to Visit: Spectacular fall foliage from September to early October and stunning spring blooms from May to June make for the best time of year to visit. 

eSIM cards allow you to stay connected to your friends, loved ones and followers no matter where you go!

Olympic National Park

Location: Washington

Annual Visitors: Approximately 3.2 million

Highlights: There’s much to explore and discover in Olympic National Park. Its high yearly precipitation, mountainous terrain and location result in a diverse ecosystem: rainforest, mountains and coastline. This park is home to about 130 miles of the Pacific Northwest Trail – the West Coast thru-hike sister to the Appalachian Trail. Two of the most popular destinations in the park are Hurricane Ridge and HohRain Forest. And, there’s no skipping the famous and fascinating tide pools. 

Best Time to Visit: For warm weather and clear skies, consider hiking between July and September.

Grand Teton National Park

Location: Wyoming

Annual Visitors: Approximately 3.4 million

Highlights: Soaring jagged mountains – Grand Teton Mountain Range – serve as the centerpiece of this park. In the valley, visitors can fly fish on the Snake River (which true to its name, snakes through the landscape). Wildlife sightings of moose and bears are common. Jackson Hole, the primary town situated in the area, is a haven for skiiers and snowboarders in the winter. 

Best Time to Visit: For accessible roads and trails, and pleasant weather, try visiting mid-May to late September.

Hiking Safety Tips

Exploring these stunning national parks often involves hiking, and staying safe is crucial. Here are some essential tips for your adventures:

Plan Ahead

  • Research the Trail: Know the length, difficulty, and terrain of the trail. You can find detailed information, including closures and maps, on the National Parks Service website. 
  • Check Weather Conditions: Be aware of the forecast and prepare for changes in weather with appropriate clothing and supplies.  

Tell Someone Your Plan

  • Share Your Itinerary: Inform a friend or family member of your hiking plans, including your expected return time.

Pack the Essentials

  • Navigation Tools: Carry a map, compass, and/or GPS device.
  • First Aid Kit: Include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications.
  • Hydration: Bring plenty of water and a method for purifying additional water if needed.
  • Food: Pack high-energy snacks and enough food for the duration of your hike.
  • Emergency Shelter: Carry a lightweight tarp or emergency blanket.
  • Fire: Bring waterproof matches, a lighter, and a firestarter.
  • Clothing: Dress in layers and pack extra clothing, including a hat and gloves. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics.

Stay on Marked Trails

  • Follow Trail Markers: Avoid taking shortcuts or venturing off the designated path to prevent getting lost.

Watch Your Step

  • Mind Your Footing: Be cautious on uneven terrain, slippery rocks, and loose gravel.

Stay Hydrated and Fed

  • Drink Regularly: Take small sips of water frequently.
  • Eat Snacks: Maintain your energy levels with nutritious snacks.

Be Aware of Wildlife

  • Respect Animals: Do not approach or feed wildlife. Keep a safe distance.
  • Store Food Properly: Use bear-resistant containers where necessary and follow local guidelines.

Know Your Limits

  • Pace Yourself: Take breaks when needed and don’t push beyond your physical capabilities.
  • Turn Back if Needed: If the weather turns bad, you're running out of daylight, or you feel unwell, turn back.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

  • Use Sunscreen: Apply SPF 30 or higher and reapply as needed.
  • Wear Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from UV rays.
  • Wear a Hat: A wide-brimmed hat provides extra protection.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

  • Emergency Contact Device: Carry a whistle, signal mirror, and, if possible, a personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger.
  • Know Basic First Aid: Understand how to treat common injuries and illnesses.

Follow these safety tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.

Stay Connected During Your Wanders

If you plan to visit any of these magnificent parks, you’ll need cellular service. Buy eSIM plans to help you navigate to and through the parks via motorized vehicles. Consider an eSIM unlimited data plan to help you stay on track and safe while you hike. And get a travel eSIM for uploading photos and staying in touch with loved ones as you explore each and every natural wonder. 


From the mesmerizing geysers of Yellowstone to the stunning coastal views of Acadia, these top ten U.S. national parks offer unparalleled beauty and adventure. Whether you're an adventure enthusiast, a family traveler, a nature lover, or an international traveler, there's something for everyone.

Before you hit the trail, make sure you’ve taken the proper precautions to stay safe. This will make the experience fun and memorable – only in the best ways. Part of that preparation includes getting the best eSIM that will allow you to stay in touch or reach out in case of an emergency. 

Whether you’re ready to lace up your hiking shoes or fire up the engine in your car, find your GigSky eSIM online before you go!