7 of the Best National Parks to Visit During Summer

Your guide to summer’s best National Parks

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming
••• Steve Burns/Getty Images

Summer is the peak vacation time for most people and it’s no different with RVers or those looking for a road trip. Summer brings gorgeous weather and a slew of activities to take part in. One of the most popular summer destinations for RVers is the country’s National Park system and that’s what we want to focus on today. Here are seven of the best National Parks for summer travel.

7 National Park Destinations to Travel to During Summer

Carlsbad Caverns National Park: New Mexico

Located in southeastern New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns wasn’t discovered on some sanctioned exploration butt rather by a curious boy by the name of James White.

White discovered and named many of the cavern’s vast interior spaces that would go on to become a National Monument then a National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is in a semiarid region that can get quite warm in the summer with daily highs around the mid to upper 90s, but it's always cool in the cave. The interior of Carlsbad Cavern is very table and hovers around a cool 56 degrees with the deeper sections holding around the low 60s. Summer also brings the highest bat populations to Carlsbad so you're sure to get a great show at dusk and dawn when the bats leave and return. 

Grand Teton National Park: Wyoming

Many travel to Wyoming during the summer to get a tour of Yellowstone National Park, but ten miles north you will find the craggy peaks, open meadows, and pleasant views of Grand Teton National Park. Grand Teton has everything that a western National Park should have to make it a great extracurricular trip if you’re visiting Yellowstone.

 

Yellowstone is one of the nation’s most popular National Parks and sees more people during summer than any other season. If you want to capture the beauty of the area but don’t want to be fighting the crowds at Yellowstone than Grand Teton is a great alternative. Grand Teton also has many great RV parks and is nearby all the other summer fun of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

 

Redwood National Park: California 

The iconic California Redwood dominates and lends its name to this great northern California State and National Park. Gaze at the some of the tallest trees in the world and take one of the several hikes around this ancient forest. Redwood National Park is home to the tallest trees on the planet and you won’t be disappointed gazing up at these red giants.

Through most of the year, Redwood National Park can be a bit wet with several inches of rain falling in the park a year. Summer sends the high-pressure storm causing systems up north making a much drier and enjoyable Redwood National Park. Even during the summer the park doesn’t get too hot with daytime highs only averaging in the high 60s in July and August. 

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: Wisconsin 

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a canoer or kayaker’s paradise. 21 islands and 12 miles of lakeshore make up the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, with the park’s beauty earning it the nickname “Jewels of Lake Superior.” Cliffs, beaches, the water meets the sky at the Apostle Islands.

Most people are going to stay away from Apostle Islands during the winter and even most of the spring and fall due to chilly temperatures, gray skies, and rough weather.

Summer brings more tolerable conditions to the Apostle Islands with daytime highs averaging around the mid-70s and the lows in the low 50s. Conditions on Lake Superior and in Wisconsin are a bit more tolerable in the summer as well. 

Mammoth Cave National Park: Kentucky 

You can find the longest known cave system in the world right in the heart of Kentucky. Current exploration pins the cave at 390 miles long, but there are many areas yet to be explored. The fascinating geological formations like stalagmites, stalactites, and underground pools as well as above ground fun make Mammoth Cave a unique National Park. 

Like Carlsbad Cavern, Mammoth Cave National Park is a great way to beat the heat and explore a National Park at the same time. Daytime highs at the surface can average in the high 80s so most people can still get out and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking but if you want to cool off, head below ground where the temperature holds at a steady 54 degrees year-round.

 

Denali National Park: Alaska 

If you’re feeling very explorative than you might decide to get out of the continental US and head to Alaska and Denali National Park. Denali is known for its untouched beauty, large amounts of wildlife, serene ponds, meadows, and large peaks. This is a picture perfect National Park and a once in a lifetime getaway for families and solo adventurers.

This one is rather simple, summer is one of the only times of the year that Denali is tolerable for most people. Many roads, routes, campgrounds, and other areas are closed off during other parts of the year but open during the summer. Temperatures can still fluctuate during the summer, but you are looking at much milder temperatures like upper 70 averages in the swing of summer. Throw in some very long days and you’ll have good weather and plenty of sun to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of Denali. 

Crater Lake National Park: Oregon

Crater Lake National Park was created out of the death of the once powerful volcano Mount Mazama and left the deepest lake in the entire United States in its wake. If you like picturesque lakes than Crater Lake National Park will be hard to beat. Deep blue waters, evergreens, and varied wildlife dot the area you’ll be staying in this part of Oregon.

It snows a lot at Crater Lake National Park, averaging a whopping 533 inches a year, that’s over 44 feet every year. This snow, of course, restricts access to many portions of the park most the year. In July and August, Crater Lake finds momentary refuge from the snowy onslaught making mid to late summer the best time to be able to enjoy as much of Crater Lake National Park as you can.

If you want a unique road trip, RV excursion, or family getaway during the summer months, consider a National Park. For the National Park Service, the summer months are some of the busiest of the year offering activities, special events, and more. The above seven National Parks offer the best the service offers during summer.