While the most famous U.S. national parks tend to lie deep inland, lovers of the sea and lakes needn’t worry. There are several awesome American coastal national parks as well. They may be overshadowed by mountain parks like Yosemite and Great Smoky Mountains, or canyon parks such as Zion and Grand Canyon, but they’re definitely spectacular in their own right.
If you’re looking for a waterfront destination, that has lots of adventure potential, check out the following coastal national parks in the USA.
Top 5 American Coastal National Parks for Adventures
Acadia National Park, Maine
The only national park in New England, Acadia National Park is a major tourist destination in the Northeast. Receiving more than three millions visitors annually, it can definitely get busy there.
However, there’s also plenty of space to escape the crowds, in this beautifully diverse park. Acadia National Park protects Mount Desert Island, and a number of smaller islands. It’s home to the tallest coastal mountain on the American Atlantic coast—Cadillac Mountain—the summit of which is where you can see the first sunset in the USA, every day.
Acadia National Park’s landscapes are made up of granite mountain peaks, pine forests, rocky shores, beautiful lakes and estuaries. Popular outdoor activities are hiking, cycling, kayaking and canoeing.
Channel Islands National Park, California
Often referred to as “North America’s Galapagos”, the Channel Islands off the southern California coast are an extremely biodiverse area. Channel Islands National Park protects five of the eight islands in the archipelago, all of them ecologically rich and boasting a wealth of wildlife.
You can get to the Channel Islands by boat or seaplane, the former being by far the most popular way. During the boat journey, you’re quite likely to see dolphins frolicking in the water, and even spot whales, while seals are abundant around the islands as well.
Sea kayaking and hiking are the two top activities to do in Channel Islands National Park, a truly stunning collection of biodiverse islands.
Biscayne National Park, Florida
Just south of Miami lies Biscayne National Park, a coastal park, that is home to four distinct yet related marine ecosystems. These are Biscayne Bay, the northern Florida Keys, coral reefs and coastal mangrove forests.
A vulnerable place, Biscayne National Park provides a habitat of various threatened animals. These include sea turtles, West Indian manatees and American crocodiles. As opposed to most other American coastal national parks, this one has an underwater trail. The Maritime Heritage Trail links several dive sites and shipwrecks. Naturally, this is an excellent place to go diving, snorkeling, swimming and boating.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
The least-visited park in this list of top 5 American coastal national parks, Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park draws in fewer than 250,000 people each year. If you’re looking for solitude and quietness, this is a great option.
Named after “voyageurs”, French fur traders, the park encompasses four major lakes on the US-Canadian border, as well as rivers, woods and islands. This water-based park is a dream destination for boaters, consisting of 344 square miles of waterways and lakes. Not surprisingly, the recommended things to do in Voyageurs National Parks are canoeing and kayaking, fishing and shore hiking.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Of the many awe-inspiring Alaskan national parks, Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the most accessible and, therefore, most popular. Situated on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska, the park features epic coastal landscapes.
There are mighty fjords, mountains and many massive glaciers. A major highlight is the Harding Icefield. The Exit Glacier is the only place in the park, that’s reachable via a public road. All the rest need to be visited by boat. Kenai Fjords National Park is as spectacular as its name suggests, and the two most popular activities are wildlife watching and boating.