More than 3.5 million people visit Acadia National Park in Maine each year. Year after year it ranks among our nation’s most popular national parks, in part because of its location, but also because it offers a good combination of nature, hiking, and history. If you’ve been to the park already and want to keep working on your #parkchasing list, here’s our guide to national parks like Acadia.
To put together this guide, we looked at some of Acadia’s most popular attractions and then chose national park units around the country that offer similar opportunities. We hope the list encourages you to keep checking parks off your list (and to visit some of our country’s other great places!)
Click the links below to jump straight to your favorite feature of Acadia and find other places you might enjoy:
- If you like national parks with rocky coasts…
- If you like “old” national parks…
- National parks with great gateway towns…
- National parks with the best sunrises…
- If you like gorgeous fall colors…
If you like national parks with rocky coasts…
One of the most popular things to do during a trip to Acadia is to spend time enjoying the classic rocky coast. Some of Acadia’s best hiking and most famous photographed areas are right on the Atlantic shore. If you’re seeking national parks with rocky coasts, check out these national parks like Acadia:
Isle Royale National Park in Michigan is well-known as one of the least visited national parks in the NPS. But it’s also a great place to spend time on a rocky shore. The tumbled boulders and large rocks are perfect to explore via canoe or kayak.
Kenai Fjords National Park is one of Alaska’s more accessible national parks. It’s also a terrific place to enjoy sea cliffs and fjords. Take one of the National Park Service-led boat tours to get up-close with the more than 1,000 square miles of the national park.
Olympic National Park in Washington offers some of the best beaches in the entire National Park Service. Try Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach for some of our favorite spots for sunset.
For a complete list of national parks on the Atlantic coast, visit the National Park Service’s Oceans, Coasts & Seashores website: Atlantic Coast Parks
- 3 Best Reasons to Visit Isle Royale National Park
- Trip Recap: Isle Royale National Park
- The Least Visited National Parks in 2018
- 5 Amazing Ways to See Kenai Fjords
- Park Chaser’s Best of Olympic National Park
If you like ‘old’ national parks…
Protected in 1916, Acadia was one of our earliest national parks. Founded about the same time as the National Park Service, along with Acadia, there are other parks designated in the earliest years of federal land preservation.
If you like ‘old’ national parks, plan to visit the oldest national parks in the United States:
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (founded in 1872)
- Sequoia National Park, California (founded in 1890)
- Yosemite National Park, California (founded in 1890)
- Mount Rainier National Park, Washington (founded in 1899)
- Crater Lake National Park, Oregon (founded in 1902)
- Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota (founded in 1903)
National Parks with Great Gateway Towns
One of the reasons national parks like Acadia become so popular is their proximity to great gateway communities like Bar Harbor, Maine. Gateway towns support national park travelers with cozy lodging and fun places to relax after a long day of hiking. It’s even better when a gateway town offers views of the national park.
If one of the reasons you love Acadia is Bar Harbor, check out these other national parks with outstanding gateway towns:
Rocky Mountain National Park – Estes Park is one of the most famous gateway towns in the entire National Park Service. Home to Elkfest and The Stanley Hotel featured in the Shining, Estes Park has a little bit of everything. The town is located directly outside the park’s eastern entrances. It’s worth exploring on your next visit.
National Parks near San Francisco – Who can compete with a gateway city like San Francisco? With nearby park units like Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, and Point Reyes National Seashore you and your family can easily enjoy a week of the Golden Gate City and some serious #parkchasing at the same time.
Grand Teton National Park – Jackson, Wyoming frequently ranks among the top vacation destinations in the world. Gateway town for Grand Teton National Park, it offers close proximity to mountain hiking and some of the top skiing in the country. Jackson is also home to breweries, art galleries, shopping, and resorts to offer every member of your family what they’re looking for on vacation.
Zion National Park and Springdale, Utah
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- 3 Best Spots to See Wildlife in Grand Teton National Park
- 5 Things We Wish We Knew Before Visiting Zion National Park
National Parks with the Best Sunrises
Watching the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain is a right-of-passage for many visitors to Acadia. It’s one of the top activities in the park, but not the only place in the National Park Service to enjoy a gorgeous morning view. Try out some of these other national parks famous for their sunrises:
Haleakalā National Park on the island of Maui is arguably the most famous place to watch the sunrise in the National Park Service. It’s so popular that visitors need to make reservations for the summit area up to 60 days in advance. During our 2014 visit, we traveled at 3 AM to make it up to the summit district in time for this incredible experience.
Mount Rainier National Park in Washington offers one of the more logical spots to watch the sunrise. At Sunrise Point of course! At 6,400 feet it’s the highest point available by vehicle in the national park.
Grand Canyon National Park tends to show up on all lists of sunrises and sunsets in the National Park Service. We guarantee that every park ranger in the Visitor’s Center can recommend their favorite spot on either the North or South Rim to watch a sunrise.
National parks known for gorgeous fall colors
When we visited Acadia in October, the fall foliage was nearing peak colors. If you like to hike under a canopy of reds and yellows or if you like to hear the crunch of fresh leaves on the trail, then choose one of these 10 national parks like Acadia, known for gorgeous fall colors:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina & Tennessee
- Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
- Glacier National Park, Montana
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- Denali National Park, Alaska
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
- Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky