West Coast National Parks

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely planning a trip to the West Coast and wondering which West Coast national parks to explore. Well, let me tell you, you’ve come to the right place! Each park has its own unique beauty and charm, from the rugged coastlines of Olympic National Park to the iconic redwoods of Redwood National and State Parks, the West Coast has something for every nature lover. L

et’s dive into the wonders of West Coast national parks!

West Coast Parks

From towering redwoods in California to snow-capped peaks of the Pacific Northwest, explore the majestic parks on America’s West Coast and uncover an abundance of natural beauty.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is a stunning and diverse natural space located in the northwest corner of Washington State, USA. The park is home to majestic mountains, lush valleys, ancient rainforests, wild rivers, and rugged Pacific coastline. It is an ecosystem of many habitats that support some of America’s most pristine native wildlife. Spanning nearly one million acres of land and sea, Olympic National Park has something for everyone – from rugged hikers to beach-lovers.

It is also home to a variety of unique species including bald eagles, elk, cougars, osprey, river otters and marmots. Visitors can hike through thousands of miles of trails in the park’s three distinct regions – the Olympic Mountains, the Hoh Rainforest and the Pacific Coast – each offering its own incredible sights and experiences. Whether you’re spending a day exploring or camping under the stars for weeks at a time, Olympic National Park promises breathtaking views and a chance to get back to nature in this magnificent part of the world.

moss covered trees in olympic national park
Hall of Mosses, Hoh Rainforest


All of these fees provide 7 days of access

$30 per car

$25 per motorcycle

$15 per person/bicycle

Established: 06/29/1938

Known for: It’s temperate rainforest, jagged coastline, and its vast wilderness area (95% of the parks 922k acres is designated wilderness)

Things to do at Olympic National Park

  • Rock climb one of the 3 tallest peaks in the park, Mt. Olympus (7,980 feet), Mt. Deception (7,788 feet), or Mt. Constance (7,743 feet).

  • Explore some of the 611 miles of hiking and backpacking trails

  • Kayak one of the scenic waterways, like the Hoh River

  • Visit the Hoh Rainforest

Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees on Earth. It’s located in the northernmost part of California and serves as a refuge for a variety of species, including the iconic coast redwood tree. These ancient sequoias are one of the few remaining old-growth redwood forests in the world, and they can reach towering heights up to 300 feet and live for 2000+ years!

The park is also home to more than 37 miles of pristine coastline bordered by rocky cliffs, sandstone formations, and tide pools. There are several trails within the park that visitors can explore, ranging from easy hikes along flat boardwalks to challenging treks up steep slopes. Redwood National Park also offers scenic views from observation points near its many lakes and rivers, as well as plenty of opportunities for camping, fishing, and kayaking. With its abundance of natural beauty and wildlife, Redwood National Park is an ideal destination for adventurers seeking an exciting wilderness experience.

Cost: Free entry

Established: 10/02/1968

Known for: Old growth redwood trees, some are over 300 feet tall!

Things to do at Redwood National Park

  • Go tidepooling- The park has many areas to do this, but the 3 largest and easiest to access are Damnation Creek, False Klamath Cove, and Endert’s Beach

  • Drive the scenic Howland Hill Road through the heart of the redwoods or the Coastal drive for a chance to see whales or sealions along with the stunning panoramas of the Pacific

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park is a breathtaking paradise located in the state of Washington. It is an expansive area of wilderness that contains majestic peaks, forested valleys, and alpine meadows. Mount Rainier itself is the centerpiece of the park, standing at 14,410 feet tall and is one of the most iconic landmarks in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors come to explore its miles of trails dotted with wildflowers and clear mountain lakes as well as its old-growth forests filled with ancient conifers like cedar and hemlock trees.

west coast park mt rainier, showing mt rainier snow covered

The park also has a plethora of wildlife to observe including marmots, elk, bear, cougars, eagles, and many more species. There are numerous recreational activities for visitors to enjoy such as hiking, camping, skiing, snowshoeing and bicycling. With its awe-inspiring views and seemingly untouched beauty it’s easy to see why Mount Rainier National Park remains one of America’s favorite natural destinations.


$25 per motorcycle

$30 per passenger vehicle (7 day pass)

$15 per pedestrian/bicycle (7 day pass)

Established:  03/02/1899 (7 day pass)

Known for:  Aside from jaw dropping beauty, this park is known for Mt. Rainier, the highest volcanic peak in the continental US. Also, it has the longest volcanic glacial cave system in the world.

Things to do at Mount Rainier

  • Sight see the incredible wildflower displays

  • Go mountain climbing. Don’t worry if you’ve never done it or if you’re a beginner, there are guide servicces available!

  • Try snowshoeing on a ranger led walk

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a stunningly beautiful natural wonder located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Offering visitors an unparalleled array of breathtaking landscapes, Yosemite is home to the towering granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, cascading waterfalls including Yosemite Falls – the highest waterfall in North America – and tranquil meadows filled with wildflowers.

Sunset sky and el capitan, a famous rock climbing rock in west coast park Yoemite
Sunset at El Capitan

In addition to such incredible outdoor opportunities, Yosemite also boasts an abundance of wildlife, from the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep to the ever-elusive bobcat. It’s no wonder then that Yosemite has been described as one of the most diverse national parks in terms of its landforms and ecosystems. From majestic peaks to lush forests, deep valleys to crystal clear lakes, Yosemite has something for everyone; providing an unforgettable experience for any visitor willing to explore its majestic beauty.

Cost: $35 per vehicle, good for 7 days

Established:  10/01/1890

Known for: Yosemite is known for many things! From the giant sequoia groves to famous geological features like Half Dome, it’s raging waterfalls. No wonder it’s one of the most visited national parks in the country!

Things to do at

  • Take the scenic route along Tioga Pass (~1 hour 45 minutes)

  • Backpack the John Muir Trail

  • Kayak Tenaya Lake

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is a stunning location in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, home to some of the world’s tallest trees. Animal species such as black bears, coyotes, and mountain lions all live here too. In addition to the majestic sequoias, visitors can also explore numerous other habitats including montane chaparral, meadows and firs. The park also contains over 1,800 miles of trails for hikers and horseback riders to explore.

Visitors can take part in activities like camping, fishing, bird watching, and picnicking. Sequoia National Park is an oasis of natural beauty that every nature enthusiast should visit at least once! There are many exciting opportunities available during a stay such as visiting the Giant Forest Museum or Moro Rock; both offer sweeping views that will leave you breathless. And if you’re lucky enough to be around in wintertime you can strap on some skis or snowshoes and explore even more of this incredible landscape! Be sure to keep an eye out for bald eagles soaring overhead too – it’s an unforgettable experience!


$35 vehicle, good for up to 7 days

430 motorcycle pass, good for 7 days

$20 pedestrian or bicyclist , also good for 7 days

Established: 09/25/1890

Known for: 

It’s giant sequoia trees. Specifically, the giant tree named General Sherman who is 275 feet tall and over 36 feet in diameter. General Sherman is the largest tree in the entire world.

Things to do at

  • Explore the giant sequoia groves

  • Check out the views atop Moro Rock

  • Visit Crystal Cave, a marble cavern

  • Go on a guided horseback ride through one of the many of scenic areas of the park

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is one of the most iconic and breathtaking places in the United States. Located mostly in California, this area is renowned for its diverse geological features, hot and arid climate, and stunningly beautiful landscapes. Spanning 3.3 million acres and encompassing a variety of ecological zones, Death Valley provides a unique window into the American desert experience.

Rainbow rocks at Death Valley

As one of the hottest places on Earth with summer temperatures reaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 Celsius), visitors should be well-prepared when visiting Death Valley National Park. Despite its scorching temperatures, visitors can still find life thriving in Death Valley as it is home to numerous species of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish and plants that are adapted to survive such extreme conditions. With so many different opportunities for exploration from hiking trails to ranger programs to outdoor activities like biking or horseback riding or simply just enjoying a picnic lunch overlooking spectacular views – Death Valley National Park remains highly popular destination for adventurers from all over the world!


All of these passes are good for 7 days

$15 per pedestrain

$25 per motorcycle

$30 per passenger vehicle

Established: 10/31/1994

Known for: Being the hottest place on Earth. The most notable features include Badwater Basin which is the lowest point in North America at 282ft below sea level, Telescope Peak which is the highest point at 11,049ft above sea level, and incredible sand dunes along the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

Things to do at Death Valley

  • Stargaze Death Valley has some of the darkest skies in the world, as designated by the International Dark-Sky Association. They’ve designated this park with the highest level of darkness, a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park.

  • Drive the backcountry roads 4×4 recommended

  • Mountain Bike on one of the many scenic trails

  • Catch the sunset at Bad Water Basin the incredible salt flats make for an unforgettable sight as the sun sinks

  • Explore one of the canyons such as Cottonwood or Marble canyons

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a natural wonder tucked away in the Cascade Range of Northern California. It’s home to Mt. Lassen, a semi-active volcano and the largest plug dome volcano in the world. The park offers unique geological features like hydrothermal areas of bubbling mud pots, boiling pools and fumaroles filled with steam, as well as colorful volcanic formations and an array of majestic wildlife. Visitors can explore over 150 miles of trails, which traverse vast meadows full of wildflowers and subalpine forests, providing spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding lake basins and mountain peaks. From snow-capped mountains to lush valleys and from sparkling lakes to hot springs, there’s something for everyone in this extraordinary park, which is sure to leave you with lifelong memories!


$30 vehicle

$25 motorcycle

$15 pedestrian/bicycle

Established: 08/09/1916

Known for: It’s volcanoes. It’s the only national park with all 4 types of volcanoes within it’s boundaries.

Things to do at Lassen Volcanic National Park

  • Attend the Dark Sky Festival

  • Hike the Bumpass Hell Trail and see Lassen Peak along the way

  • Check out the hydrothermal areas

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a rugged, arid landscape in the Mojave Desert of southern California. It is home to the unique and iconic Joshua Trees, as well as a diverse array of plants and animals. The park boasts an array of hiking trails, rock climbing routes, and camping sites that offer visitors the opportunity to explore one of the wildest places in North America. Along with its spectacular beauty, Joshua Tree National Park provides incredible opportunities for stargazing, wildlife viewing, and photography due to its clear night skies.

In addition to its abundant flora and fauna, the park features several historic structures like Keys Ranch; a living homesteading museum that dates back to the early 1900s. With over 800,000 acres of public land open for exploration within its boundaries and picturesque landscapes that span from valley floors up into mountains peaks, there’s something for everyone at Joshua Tree National Park!

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park is a majestic wilderness situated in the Sierra Nevada’s south of Sequoia National Park. It features spectacular glaciated canyons, towering granite cliffs, and lush meadows bisected by the South Fork of the Kings River. Its vast backcountry offers an array of outdoor activities from camping to whitewater rafting and fishing. The park also contains two Giant Sequoia groves including the world-famous General Grant Grove, home to some of the oldest and largest trees on Earth.

Additionally, visitors can explore its numerous trails ranging from easy walks to challenging climbs with breathtaking views. Kings Canyon National Park is a wonderland that is sure to delight outdoor enthusiasts from all walks of life with its stunning landscape and diverse wildlife population. This natural area offers unforgettable experiences whether you are looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventure filled trek through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is the fifth oldest national park in the United States. Located in Southern Oregon, the park features an abundance of breathtaking scenery, including its namesake, Crater Lake. The lake was formed when a powerful volcanic eruption destroyed the top of Mount Mazama thousands of years ago. It is now considered to be one of the most beautiful and pristine lakes in America, featuring crystal clear blue waters surrounded by soaring cliffs and majestic old-growth forests.

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park is an archipelago of five islands off the coast of Southern California. It consists of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Barbara Islands. This national park protects a unique and diverse array of plants and animals on land and in the ocean. A variety of habitats can be found here from island foxes to sea lions, from blue whales to elephant seals, from live oak forests to sea kelp beds. As a result, it’s home to over 2,000 species of plants and animals.

The waters within the park also provide a variety of recreational opportunities such as kayaking and diving. There are also plenty of trails for hiking and camping along with tidepooling experiences where visitors can explore rocky intertidal areas at low tide. With its magnificent views, rich history and abundant wildlife, Channel Islands National Park is truly an incredible site that should not be missed!

More National Parks in the West

Grand Teton

Grand Teton National Park is a majestic area located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, USA. It spans over 300,000 acres and is filled with towering mountains, shimmering alpine lakes, and expansive valleys. The centerpiece of the park is Grand Teton itself, a 13,770-foot mountain that offers spectacular views of the surrounding area. In addition to its outdoor recreation opportunities such as hiking and fishing, visitors can explore the park’s abundant wildlife including grizzly bears, bison, elk, and moose. Throughout the year, numerous bird species migrate through or inhabit the park including bald eagles and sandhill cranes.

bison in a meadow and mountain peaks  in Grand teton, a beautiful west coast park

Visitors can also take part in educational programs offered by the park rangers or simply enjoy a picnic or camp in some of the most beautiful scenery in America. Grand Teton National Park is an incredible place that provides an unforgettable experience for everyone who visits!

Capital Reef

Capital Reef National Park is a stunningly beautiful park located in the heart of South-Central Utah. It spans an incredible 241,904 acres and offers visitors an array of breathtaking natural wonders. Its landscape is characterized by rugged cliffs, deep canyons, and majestic domes that are the remnants of ancient sea beds from the time when dinosaurs roamed this region.

The park contains a variety of amazing geological features such as Waterpocket Fold and Capitol Dome, as well as historic sites like Fruita Historic District and Cohab Canyon Petroglyphs. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Capital Reef National Park, from camping and hiking to sightseeing and horseback riding.

In addition to its beautiful nature, the park also offers many cultural experiences, such as the Native American petroglyphs found throughout the area, which were created over two thousand years ago by ancestral Puebloan people. With its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife and rich cultural heritage, Capital Reef National Park is an ideal spot for exploration and discovery.


Arches National Park is an incredible place to explore. Located near Moab, Utah in the Colorado Plateau, Arches National Park is home to over 2,000 awe-inspiring sandstone arches and other rock formations. It is a geologist’s paradise, where the forces of erosion are constantly sculpting the landscape.

The park consists of more than 75,000 acres of wind-sculpted canyons, balanced rocks and spires, natural stone arches, and spectacular vistas. Park features include unique red rock formations such as Delicate Arch, Courthouse Towers, Landscape Arch (one of the world’s longest), and thousands of other unique geological features. Visitors can also take advantage of hiking trails that range from easy strolls to more challenging hikes for those looking for a more difficult adventure.

This park is also great for photographers looking to capture some amazing shots of nature’s beauty. In addition to its natural beauty and geological wonders, Arches National Park offers visitors stunning night skies with some of the darkest conditions in Utah, making it ideal for stargazing. With its dramatic landscapes and inspiring desert scenery, it’s easy to see why Arches National Park has become one of the most popular national parks in the United States. Its iconic arches are truly something special that make this park stand out among all others—offering visitors a chance to experience something truly remarkable at a place like no other on earth!


Canyonlands National Park is an iconic place to visit in the southwestern United States. Located in Utah, this park boasts a stunning array of natural wonders including mesas, canyons, buttes, and the mighty Colorado River. This diverse ecosystem supports several types of wildlife and flora, ensuring visitors will experience something unique with each visit.

The park includes four distinct districts that are connected by the Green and Colorado Rivers: Island in the Sky, The Maze, The Needles and The Rivers. From easy hikes around Island in the Sky’s sweeping mesas to challenging backcountry adventures into The Maze district’s sandstone canyons, there is something for everyone at Canyonlands National Park.

In addition to offering plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities such as boat tours along the Green River, rock climbing up sheer walls of sandstone, or mountain biking through dramatic canyons and labyrinths of rock formations – Canyonlands has educational programs for all ages.

Overlooks throughout the park offer breathtaking panoramic views of deeply eroded landforms and towering spires made from sedimentary rocks pushed up by tectonic forces millions of years ago. Whether you’re looking for a short day trip or an adventurous weekend away – this west coast park is sure to provide you with an unforgettable experience!


Saguaro National Park is an incredible natural wonder in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. It is home to one of the most iconic and recognizable cactus species, the giant saguaro, which can grow up to 45 feet tall and 80 years old. The park is divided into two distinct desert areas: the Tucson Mountain District on the west side and Rincon Mountain District located on the east.

Both offer a wide range of activities for visitors including hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, bird watching, sightseeing and more. There are over 165 miles of trails throughout the park where you can explore some unique landscapes such as massive boulder fields, bajadas with hundreds of saguaros, and scenic mountain vistas. Wildlife that can be seen include coyotes, javelinas, bobcats, roadrunners, hawks and many others.

A visit to Saguaro National Park will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will be cherished for years to come. This west coast park also has a rich Native American heritage with several archaeological sites scattered throughout its borders; so it’s not just about the saguaros!

For those seeking more than captivating scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities, there are plenty of other recreational activities like horseback riding, scenic driving tours and educational programs for children.

White Sands

White Sands National Park is an astonishing natural wonder located in the state of New Mexico. It stretches for nearly 275 square miles and is composed of massive sand dunes that are made up of gypsum crystals. The park is home to over 400 different kinds of plants, 300 species of birds, lizards, reptiles, and even a few endangered species such as the silvery minnow and the lesser long-nosed bat. During the day, visitors can explore the serene beauty and vastness of this ethereal land while at night they can observe a stunning star-filled sky.

white sand and a yucca plant at west coast park, white sands

Hiking through the dunes is an exciting experience that provides endless opportunities for photography with its mesmerizing white sands swirled by gentle winds. Visitors can also go horseback riding through the park or take part in ranger-guided tours highlighting wildlife, fossils, and other cultural heritage sites. With such majestic views along with its unique history and abundance of wildlife, White Sands National Park is truly a destination like no other!

Rocky Mountain

Rocky Mountain National Park is truly a wonder to behold, with its stunning landscape of towering mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, lush forests and vibrant meadows. Visiting the park can make for an unforgettable experience, especially when taking in the majestic panoramic views of the Rockies from atop Trail Ridge Road. Hiking and camping are popular activities in Rocky Mountain, with trails of varying difficulty levels available throughout the park.

Wildlife abounds here as well; visitors often spot deer, elk, moose, black bears and more while exploring the area. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway or an adrenaline-filled outdoor escape, Rocky Mountain National Park has something for everyone! From its soaring alpine tundra to its tranquil lakeside beaches, this incredible natural setting offers visitors an unrivaled sense of awe and appreciation for nature’s grandeur.

In addition to hiking and fishing, visitors can take part in a wide range of activities including horseback riding, rock climbing and mountaineering as well as touring nearby lakes. By evening you will be sure to catch spectacular views of sunsets that turn the sky into brilliant shades of purple and orange. Rocky Mountain National Park is a place where nature takes center stage; its breathtaking beauty will leave you breathless!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a breathtaking location that captivates visitors who come to explore its majestic scenery and rich wildlife. This stunning natural wonder is characterized by its steep, narrow gorge that runs for 48 miles along the Gunnison River, between Montrose and Delta counties in Colorado. The canyon walls reach depths up to 2,722 feet and feature striking rock formations that create an awe-inspiring landscape.

The area is covered with vegetation such as ponderosa pines, Douglas fir trees, juniper shrubs, yucca plants on the lower elevations, and wildflowers during the spring months. In addition to its stunning views, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park provides recreational activities such as fishing, rafting, camping and hiking trails for visitors to enjoy. Wildlife watchers will appreciate the opportunity to spot desert bighorn sheep as well as coyotes, elk, mule deer and many other species of animals living in this unique environment. It’s no wonder why so many people visit year after year – it’s a great place to experience nature in all its glory!


Visiting Yellowstone National Park is an incredible experience and something that no one should miss out on. From the majestic geysers to the diverse wildlife, this park provides a unique, natural wonder that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. As you explore, you’ll be blown away by the stunning beauty of this west coast parks’ stunning landscape, from its vibrant meadows to its breathtakingly tall mountains.

The area is home to many species of animals including bison, elk, moose, and wolves. With more than 2 million acres of land to explore, there’s never a shortage of things to see and do. From whitewater rafting and snowshoeing to camping and hiking along secluded trails, you can find something for everyone at Yellowstone National Park. There are plenty of activities for all ages too – from exploring a variety of museums to joining ranger-led programs where you can learn about the history and ecology of the region. No matter how many times you visit Yellowstone National Park, it will always leave a lasting impression on your memory with its stunning vistas and abundant wildlife.


Glacier National Park is a breathtaking destination located in the state of Montana. Its 1 million acres span across two different mountain ranges, the Rocky Mountains and the Lewis Range. Serving as a hiker’s paradise, there are over 700 miles of trails to explore, offering amazing views of over 130 named lakes and more than 1,000 different species of plants and animals.

mountains and blue sky with a turquoise lake at Glacier NAtional Park, a popular west coast park

There are five different ecosystems found within Glacier National Park that vary depending on elevation, precipitation levels, and temperature – alpine tundra, subalpine forest, montane forest, grassland/shrub-steppe, and riparian areas. With its large variety of habitats come many opportunities for wildlife spotting such as grizzly bears, mountain goats, wolverines, elk, bighorn sheep and more!

In addition to the natural wonders found within this national park you can also find historic chalets built by the Great Northern Railway Company back in 1910 that still offer lodging to visitors today. Glacier National Park is a must visit location providing unforgettable experiences from awe inspiring mountain views to lush forests filled with wildlife.

Related Posts to West Coast Parks

Scenic Hikes in Midwest National Parks

National Parks on the East Coast