The Best National Parks on the East Coast

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The West Coast often gets all the attention for incredible national parks. They’re gorgeous and they offer great history and depth, but the national parks on the East Coast deserve just as much attention. You’ll be able to experience the best autumn views and dive into spectacular spots for snorkeling.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This national park spans North Carolina and Tennessee. You can either drive the highway to take in the breathtaking views or travel along the 800+ hiking trails. The park is home to some of the oldest mountains on the planet and over 100 species of native trees.

As one of the most-visited national parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park can get crowded, so if crowds aren’t your thing, try out one of the hiking trails.

Shenandoah National Park

You’ll find this breathtaking national park in Virginia. It’s a spectacular place to visit all year long, but if you want something particularly gorgeous, visit during the fall: it features some of the finest autumn views in the country. The park has a wide variety of hiking trails ranging from complex to easygoing. You’ll find over 18 species of snakes at this park along with a vast number of other wildlife.

Cape Cod National Shore

President John F. Kennedy felt that this stretch of beach was so exquisite that it should be protected, and so Cape Cod National Shore was born. Located in Massachusetts, it stretches over 40 miles. Here you’ll find some of the best swimming spots and most incredible sand dunes. One great spot, in particular, is Nauset Light Beach. Ditch the car and ride around on bikes to take in the scenery.

Dry Tortugas National Park

Located on the southern tip of Florida, this national park is only accessible by boat or seaplane, but getting there is worth the side adventure. Seven tiny islands make up Dry Tortugas National Park, which holds a lot of historic value. On one of the islands sits Fort Jefferson, which was constructed after the War of 1812 and doubled as a prison. Its nickname is the Alcatraz of Florida.

Since the islands are further away from civilization, the reef is active and alive with wildlife. The water is a crystal-clear, iridescent blue, making it idyllic for snorkeling.

Acadia National Park

This national park’s claim to fame is that it’s where the sunrise first hits the United States. This is the only national park in Maine, and it’s also home to the highest point on the East Coast. Make sure to take some time to hike up Cadillac Mountain and to go kayaking for the opportunity to see seals and whales.

Don’t overlook these national parks for your vacation. Whether you want to take a road trip in an RV or stay in hotels, these national parks on the East Coast are worth the trip.