Reader Participation Day: Given A Choice, Which State Would You Visit To Tour Its National Parks?

If you could only visit one state to tour national parks, which state would it be? NPS map.

If you could visit only one state to tour its national parks, which state would it be?

Would you head to Utah with its five "national parks," to California with its eight "national parks" and handful of other designated park units, or choose Maine with its one national park (Acadia), a stretch of Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and lone international historic site?

Does quantity overrule quality? (Of course, quality is in the eye of the beholder...) Would you be in bliss just to travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands and sit on the beach at Virgin Islands National Park, or would you prefer to head to a state to tick off as many park units as possible?


As I've been to most parks between the Pacific coast and the Rocky Mountains, I choose Alaska. I'd love to hike the vast wilderness of Denali and Kobuk-Valley, watch glaciers reaching into the sea and despite it is not administrated by the NPS, I hope Misty Fjords National Monument (USFS) counts in this question. I would like to take a sea kayak to the channels and fjords between granite walls that made John Muir think of the "Yosemite of the North". Throw in the Kenai peninsula and Kodiak Island, maybe the Aleutes and somewhere far north. Maybe Kotzebue with Cape Krusenstern.

Alaska would be my choice.

Washington. The three "parks" there are all among my favorites. I could spend the rest of my life in Olympic and never get bored.

Utah! I love the desert and the parks and monuments there are incredible.

With nearly 400 national parks, it's hard to choose just one state. You'd have to be more specific about what type of national park. Do you refer only to those with the designation National Park or is it inclusive of the National Monuments, National Memorials, National Battlefields, etc.? If you are allowing for historic and cultural sites as well as the great natural sites, then I would have to choose Pennsylvnia for Independence Hall, Gettysburg, Eisenhower, Flight 93, Steamtown and Valley Forge, among many others. These national parks span the history of America. And then there are the natural spaces-- Deleware Water Gap, the plethora of National Scenic Trails, Wild & Scenic Rivers and Recreational trails, waterways, etc.

Everything is fair game, MLR. Indeed, as you note, what one is looking for surely impacts the state you'd want to visit. For Civil War history, it'd almost have to be Virginia. Tropical settings? That'd be a bit tougher. Do you go to Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Florida?

If I had never visited the state, my choice would probably be Utah, although California qould give it a run for its money. However, I'd rather use my choice for a state I've still never visited, and that would come down to Florida vs. Hawaii. Both offer multiple National Parks, numerous historic sites, and pretty comparable tropical beaches. I'd probably give Florida the edge, as I think its natural features are more endangered and it has the advantage of neighboring other states I've also never visited. In the real world, it's looking like both states are going to have to wait for my retirement. Eight years can't go by quick enough . . .

My answer is a park not a state. Hands down Yellowstone NP. We have been once and only scratched the surface. We wanted to go again this summer but gas prices are too high and airfares are as well. So we will visit our National Parks, which we love, Rainier, Olympic, and North Cascasdes.

1st choice would be Alaska followed by Utah and Wyoming.

I would have to say Alaska! There are sooooo many parks there to choose from. And I think if I got lost in Denali, I would be in heaven! After that - Hawaii followed by Wyoming. AND just for the record - ANY National Park is wonderful to me! :)

It's hard to beat the variety of NPS areas in either Arizona or New Mexico, especially if you are interested in early American Indian history. And each state has its "flagship park", Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns. And unlike some of the other states mentioned above, the park service areas in these states are open during the winter months for average visitors.


I would visit any state or territory to visit an NPS unit of any type. Except of course, for Delaware which doesn't have any. And Guam and American Samoa would be a stretch, but not out of the question.

No question, first is the Utah Canyon Country followed by Alaska, Wyoming, California, Colorado.

Alaska. I've never seen a brown bear in the wild and Alaska would be the ideal place.

Other than that, California. I've actually only visited five of the units with the "National Park" designation in California. There's an absolute wealth of NPS sites in California that I haven't visited or haven't spent much time at.

Wyoming - Home of America's first National Park & the majestic Tetons.

Although it would be hard to choose, I have to put my vote in for Tennessee/North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. My 3 year old daughter would probably vote for the Smokies as well. We just came back from a ten day trip last month. She had a blast and wanted to stay longer. No matter how long we stay, it is never long enough.