U.S. national parks offer opportunities for boundless outdoor exploration across the country. Of all the activities you can do within our country’s parks, hiking is certainly a fan favorite. Hiking is one of the best ways to take in the natural scenery and even spot wildlife along the way. If you’re ready for adventure, check out RV Trader’s list of 11 national parks with the best hiking trails to conquer this summer.
1. Acadia National Park in Maine
Acadia National Park showcases the beauty of the Atlantic coastline. One of the most-visited national parks in the country, travelers can unhitch their fifth wheel and navigate 27 miles of historic motor roads with their tow vehicle, or trek across the hiking trails.
The park has 158 miles of hiking trails that wander through forests, rocky coastline, and shimmering lakes. Trails range in difficulty and scenery, from summit hikes flaunting panoramic views of nearby islands to coastal hikes with a sea breeze that will keep you cool under the summer sun.
2. Arches National Park in Utah
Walk among more than 2,000 towering natural stone arches at the appropriately named Arches National Park. You can best explore these wondrous red rocks on a hike throughout the park.
A majority of Arches National Park’s hiking trails range from easy to moderate. Walk beneath the clear blue skies to take in fantastic viewpoints of the La Sal Mountains and the park’s geological marvels. More experienced and adventurous hikers can take a challenging, ranger-guided hike to the Fiery Furnace, described as a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons.
3. Glacier National Park in Montana
Glacier National Park is an ideal destination for hikers, boasting 734 miles of hiking trails to choose from. Traverse the park’s alpine meadows, winding valleys, and melting glaciers.
Take a self-guided walk along the Trail of the Cedars, Forest and Fire, Hidden Lake, Running Eagle Falls, and Swiftcurrent Nature Trails to experience the park at your own leisure. There are also guided hikes with a park ranger that vary from two to 10 miles and offer natural and cultural history of the park.
Check out our travel guide to learn more about camping in Glacier National Park.
4. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona
The Grand Canyon displays one of the most astounding examples of erosion in the world. Grand Canyon National Park draws millions of visitors each year looking to tour the natural wonder, from both the North and South Rims of the park.
The North Rim offers a more remote feeling. Take a day hike and enjoy the solitude of nature and the breathtaking views. There are two popular hiking trails on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Trail of Time is a 2.83-mile paved walkway that is designed to be a geological timeline dating back one million years. The Canyon Rim Trail is approximately 13 miles, mostly paved, with shuttle bus stops along the way.
5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina/Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is active, especially in summer, with plant and animal life. You can view some of this scenery as you drive along Cades Cove Loop Road or Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. However, these roadways aren’t suitable for RVs, including smaller Class C motorhomes, so park your rig at the campsite and opt for a hike instead.
Summer hikes in the Smoky Mountains feature cool respites from the heat among the spruce-fir forests, mountain streams, or rushing waterfalls. There are even leisurely, kid-friendly hikes that allow your children to experience the Smokies by foot.
6. Isle Royale National Park in Michigan
Isle Royale National Park is an island full of adventure in the middle of Lake Superior. This waterside wilderness is paradise for boaters, paddlers, divers, backpackers, and hikers.
Once you cross Lake Superior to reach Isle Royale, you could spend the whole day hiking the park’s rugged terrain. Most hikes have a duration of one to six hours, but it’s worth it once you’re overlooking majestic Lake Superior or walking beneath a wave-washed cliff. Full-day hikes first require you to reach the isolated parts of the island via a ferry, seaplane, or private boat before you can tackle the trails.
7. Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses towering mountain ranges and glittering alpine lakes. You can explore the park, from the ground to the peaks, via 355 miles of hiking trails.
Take a short, scenic stroll around Bear Lake or embark on a steep trail to the summit of Flattop Mountain for panoramic views of the park. Rocky Mountain National Park has 17 lake hikes and five summit hikes to choose from. You can also take a break from the heat with a waterfall hike, ranging from less than a mile to four miles in distance.
8. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks in California
Walk among the colossal sequoia trees as you make your way through Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. The park’s ancient sequoias are some of the largest trees in the world, showcasing a distinct red-orange bark.
View these trees up close and personal on a short, paved trail walk or all-day hike. Giant Forest hikes to the General Sherman Tree, Moro Rock, and Tokopah Falls are some of the most popular in the park. There are also Cedar Grove day hikes along beautiful vistas, still rivers, and roaring waterfalls.
9. Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
Shenandoah National Park boasts 200,000 acres of protected lands that are home to deer, black bear, songbirds, and more. Get a glimpse of this wildlife, along with cascading waterfalls, wildflower fields and wooded hollows, on a hike through the park.
Make your way along more than 500 miles of hiking trails. There are even hikes to avoid crowds during the peak summer season. Shenandoah National Park also has trails recommended for kids and bird watchers. Old Rag is one of the most popular hiking areas, showcasing 360-degree views of the scenery. Make your way to the summit or take an alternate, pet-friendly route around Old Rag.
10. Yosemite National Park in California
One of the top 10 national parks in the U.S., Yosemite National Park was first protected in 1864. The park is best known for its waterfalls that rush with water from the snowmelt as the temperatures warm up. Experience all the sights and sounds of Yosemite National Park on a hike.
The Yosemite Valley is a popular destination for day hikes, featuring easy to strenuous hikes along the valley and to the top of Yosemite Valley at Glacier Point. For a real challenge, not recommended for unprepared hikers, Half Dome is a 14- to 16-mile round-trip hike offering panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra from staggering elevations.
11. Zion National Park in Utah
Zion National Park is Utah’s first national park, a place where Native Americans and pioneers once explored. The park has over 124,000 miles of designated wilderness to explore on horseback or by rock climbing, canyoneering, or hiking.
Some of Zion National Park’s most popular hiking trails are located in the Zion Canyon. These vary in difficulty and provide memorable views of the Lower Emerald Pool and waterfalls, as well as Echo Canyon. For longer hikes, make your way to the Zion Wilderness where you can take in views of La Verkin Creek and the valley floor of Hop Valley.
Before you go, read our travel guide for more information on camping in Zion National Park.
When you hit the road on your summer vacation, lace up your shoes and take on the trails at one of these national parks. A getaway in your RV promises stunning scenery on the road, but these hiking trails will take your views and experiences to the next level.
Looking for more places to take your RV this summer? Check out RV Trader’s Summer Destinations Resource Page for more on-the-road getaways. And, if you’re searching for an RV to make your summer adventures happen, browse the nationwide inventory of new and used RVs for sale on RVTrader.com.