The Top US National Parks to Visit in July

The Top 15 US National Parks to Visit in July (2024) to Avoid the Crowds

In some ways, July is a prime time to visit the national parks throughout the United States. Many of the parks experience heavy snowfall and icy roads during the winter, and at high elevations, that snow tends not to melt until summer. In fact, some national parks aren’t able to open all their roads until July! 

On the other hand, many national parks deal with heat so high that it’s not the safest idea to be out and about hiking in the middle of the day. July is also a common vacation time for many Americans, resulting in high crowd levels throughout many national parks, especially the most well-known of the bunch.

Looking for a national park to visit in July that’s not too hot and not too crowded? I’ve compiled a list of the best national parks to visit in July, from Alaskan paradises to island getaways. Pick your favorite national park from this list, and you’re bound to have an amazing summer trip!

The 15 Best National Parks to Visit This July 

1. See Bears at Katmai National Park & Preserve

Best National Parks in July: Katmai National Park & Preserve

Located in Alaska, Katmai National Park & Preserve is one of the most unique national parks to visit in July if you’re looking for incredible wildlife sightings. Katmai National Park is where you’ll find the beloved tournament of Fat Bear Week, where the winner is the bear who has best prepared for winter.

July is when these bears are out and about, catching salmon and getting ready for the cold weather, which creates many opportunities to watch them work. With Katmai National Park being one of the best brown bear viewing areas in the world, you’ll be amazed by the beauty of the park and the majestic animals that call it home.


2. Kayak Kenai Fjords National Park

National Parks You Must Visit in July: Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park, another Alaska find, is a national park to visit in July if you enjoy clear blue waters bathed in endless days of sunlight. This national park experiences some of its best weather all year in July, with snow melting from the path and animals rising from their winter hibernation.

When you pay this national park a visit, you can spend your days cruising around the fjords from the comfort of a boat tour or on your own, paddling around in a kayak. If you’re an experienced hiker, you’ll love the view from the Harding Icefield Trail!


3. Explore Denali National Park & Preserve

Must Visit National Parks in July: Denali National Park

If you’re looking for mild weather that’s great for hiking in July, you’ll find several options in Alaska, including Denali National Park. This national park is home to a diverse array of species, the tallest mountain in North America, and miles of hiking trails. Bike the Denali Park Road, meet the park’s working sled dogs, or see the beauty of it all on a flightseeing tour.


4. See wildflowers in Mount Rainier National Park

Best National Parks in July: Mount Rainier National Park Summer

Located in Washington, Mount Rainier National Park is the national park to visit in July if you’re looking to take in acre upon acre of colorful beauty. The peak wildflower bloom in the national park tends to happen around mid-July, painting the park in a vibrant palette. 

After a snowy winter, the trails and roads in Mount Rainier are typically all open by July. Hike 240 miles of trails, take a gondola ride to see the beauty of the park, or, if you’re an experienced climber, climb Mount Rainier itself. 


5. Take a tour of Crater Lake National Park

National Parks You Must Visit in July: Crater Lake National Park

For more blossoming fields of color, head to Crater Lake National Park, located in Oregon. Like Mount Rainier National Park, many of the roads and facilities here close down in the winter, but you’ll find them open and waiting for you in July.

Hike 90 miles of trails, take a scenic drive around Rim Drive, and take in the beauty of the blankets of wildflowers covering the grounds. 


6. Go off the beaten path at North Cascades National Park

Must Visit National Parks in July: North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park in Washington never gets too hot, making for a great July visit. But in the winter, it does get cold and snowy, which is why its facilities tend to hibernate, just like the wildlife in the park. However, by July, you can expect to have much more of the park to explore.

This national park is also one of the less-visited parks. While July is one of the park’s busiest months, North Cascades tends to never get too packed with guests.


7. Snorkel at Channel Islands National Park

Best National Parks in July: Channel Islands National Park

Off the shore of California, you’ll find Channel Islands National Park, one of the best national parks to visit in July if you like warm weather and plenty of opportunity to get in or out on the water. In addition to it being prime time to snorkel, swim, and scuba, July is also when the wildlife tends to be very active. 

Summer is the start of blue and humpback whale watching season, and you might just see California sea lions and northern fur seal pups, so you have plenty of wildlife sighting opportunities when you take a boat over to this park.


8. Visit Petrified Forest National Park

National Parks You Must Visit in July: Petrified Forest National Park

Summers may be hot and rainy, but Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is still one of the best national parks to visit in July. This national park is often overlooked in favor of other parks and landmarks nearby, like the Grand Canyon. 

The result is that, even during the busy season in summer, it never gets too crowded. So you can enjoy the rainbow of color in the petrified wood and grounds around the park without having to compete with other visitors for a prime view.


9. Ride the Going-to-the-Sun Road at Glacier National Park

Must Visit National Parks in July: Glacier National Park

While Glacier National Park’s famous Going-to-the-Sun Road is open year-round, it’s shut down at higher elevations due to the snow in the winter. Some years, those higher elevations don’t even open until early July.

In addition to riding this famous road, summertime visitors to this Montana park can also enjoy boat tours on the park’s many lakes, hike over 700 miles of trails, and take in the view from horseback.


10. Hike Lassen Volcanic National Park

Best National Parks in July: Lassen Volcanic National Park

California is home to several national parks, but one of the coolest national parks to visit in July is Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is often overlooked in favor of the state’s more well-known parks. Here, you’ll find all four types of volcanoes, but it’s also home to fields of wildflowers that bloom in the summer and crystal-clear lakes. 


11. Explore Redwood National and State Parks

National Parks You Must Visit in July: Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks, another California find, is another great place to visit in summer, as those beautiful old-growth redwoods can protect you from that hot summer sun. Throughout these parks, you can meander through 200 miles of trails. And there’s more to these parks than just the forest itself. 

You’ll find prairies with wildflowers blooming in summer, a coastline with incredible views of the ocean and the animals that call it home, and rivers that are home to their own astonishing ecosystem.


12. Cool Off in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Must Visit National Parks in July: Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Over in Alaska is another one of the best national parks for a summer visit, Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. Covering a whopping 3.3 million acres, this national park is home to jagged peaks, temperate rainforests, stunning fjords, and, of course, glaciers.

But one of the best parts of this national park is its wildlife sightings. In summer, you may catch a glimpse of harbor seal pups, black and brown bears, humpback and killer whales, and much more.


13. Look for wildlife at Grand Teton National Park

Best National Parks in July: Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming is another often overlooked park, with many visitors missing out on its beauty in favor of Yellowstone. Even during the summer, this park never gets too crowded, making it one of the best national parks to visit in July. 

Paddle around the park’s clear blue lakes, go hiking, and explore the history of the park through its old homesteads and cattle ranches.


14. Stargaze at Capitol Reef National Park

National Parks You Must Visit in July: Capitol Reef National Park

In Utah is Capitol Reef National Park, a national park that’s often skipped in favor of other Utah parks like Zion. Even during the summer, you won’t have to compete for a spot on the scenic hiking trails like you would at those other parks. Temperatures also tend not to soar as high as some of those other parks in summer, allowing you to explore the geological wonders here more easily and comfortably.


15. Take a boat to Voyageurs National Park

Must Visit National Parks in July: Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park, located in Minnesota, is a truly unique national park. With 40 percent of it covered in water, it’s a beautiful blue wonderland. Hop on a boat and explore the water, and you can even rent a houseboat to camp out on the water! If you do, be sure to stay out after dark, as this certified Dark Sky Park is one of the best places for stargazing. 

There you have it! The 15 best national parks to visit in July. What’s your favorite?


Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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