The Best National Parks for Easy Awesome Views
I’m sure there are plenty of other National Parks that are great for easy awesome views, but I’ve only been to twenty National Parks so far, so I have to base my list on them. So, if you disagree with me, please tell me your favorite parks for easy views. When I say “easy awesome views,” I’m thinking of being able to see incredible sights from your car or from viewpoints within a short walk from the parking lot. These are parks with easy access to fantastic vistas. You could say they are also very attainable to those in wheelchairs.
Without further ado, here’s my list (in alphabetical order):
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Here’s the thing about Bryce Canyon; every single view down into Bryce Amphitheater from the rim is phenomenal. There’s Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, and several farther down the park road. Each vista provides a different stunning view of the park’s unique and colorful hoodoos.
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. The Grand Canyon looks way different from Bryce Amphitheater, but the idea here is the same. The many views from the rim of the canyon are all impressive. Mather Point near Grand Canyon village is one of my favorites. I also like the view from Desert View, because it’s one of the only spots where you can see the Colorado River from the rim. Each and every scenic vista along the rim will give you an amazing view of the colorful canyon.
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Ok, so with Bryce Amphitheater and the Grand Canyon you look down into colorful wonderlands, but at Grand Teton you look up to be amazed. These jagged peaks can be seen from just about anywhere in the park. There are several great scenic viewpoints highlighting the peaks. Schwabacher’s Landing is my favorite view of the Cathedral Group. It requires a very short walk and you’ll be treated with a reflection of the mountains. Oxbow Bend gives you a famous view of the hulking Mount Moran. Ansel Adams immortalized the view at the Snake River Overlook. Mormon Row is another popular spot, but I somehow missed it on my trips to the park (I focus more on the mountains than buildings, even historic ones). Aside from the scenic lookouts, I highly recommend taking a short relaxing stroll along the shore of Jenny Lake. It’s especially nice there in the early morning or evening when the crowds are gone.
- Olympic National Park, Washington. I’ve only been here once and it was for just three nights, so I’ve got plenty left to see there and definitely want to return. In my short time there I saw a lot and much of it required little effort. The park has three distinctly unique areas. There is a long unspoiled coastline, the Olympic Mountains, and temperate rainforests in between. You can go just about anywhere in each region and have amazing views. As soon as you enter the Hoh Rainforest you will be overwhelmed by the amount of green surrounding you. The beaches and sea stacks out in the Pacific Ocean are equally stunning. Then there are the above-tree line views from Hurricane Ridge. Mountain meadows and snowcapped peaks highlight the views from there. You really can’t go wrong in Olympic.
- Yellowstone National Park; Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Yellowstone has a nice combination of scenic turnouts and overlooks as well as easily accessible views. The best views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone are from Artist Point and Lookout Point. In other parts of the park there are boardwalks that take you on short walks around geysers, hot springs, and pools. There are plenty of nameless lookouts that can give you great views of wildlife in both Hayden Valley and Lamar Valley. You can admire Yellowstone Lake from lookouts or walk right up to its shore. There are also many waterfalls in the park that you can see from the road or from nearby lookouts.
- Yosemite National Park, California. You can see the most famous features in Yosemite Valley right from your car. I would still definitely recommend leaving your car for a better view of Half Dome, Yosemite Fall, and El Capitan, though. You can also see Bridalveil Fall, and Ribbon Fall without hiking. It requires a short walk into the Mariposa Grove to see giant sequoia trees. Glacier Point, Tunnel View, and Valley View are likely the most well-known viewpoints in the park and they are all a short walk from a parking lot.
- Zion National Park, Utah. This is the last park on my list. Zion, like Grand Teton and Yosemite Valley, has awesome scenery that you can take in by simply looking up and around you. The many mesas, buttes, and plateaus that encase Zion Canyon are colorful and imposing. The Watchman and Three Patriarchs are probably the most identifiable sights. You can also walk along the Virgin River, make the short walk to the Weeping Wall, or simply take the scenic drive through the park and be amazed by the colorful red rock landscape.