Top 5 American US Island National Parks

There’s more to the American national parks than epic mountain ranges, endless deserts and mighty canyons. Although those types of landscape are where you’ll find the most well-known parks, such as Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Joshua Tree, there are also several parks that have something completely different to offer. Those are the sometimes-underrated American US island national parks.

Top 5 US Island National Parks

We’ve already written a blog post about America’s coastal national parks before, but in this one we’ll go even more specific and take a look at the top 5 US island national parks. These parks are either partially or entirely located on islands, whether that is a temperate or tropical climate. America is huge, and the US island national parks are varied.

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park,American US island national parks
Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas National Park: Photo on Flickr by: Evangelio Gonzalez / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

5. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Located almost 70 miles to the west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park may be one of the national parks in the USA that is most difficult to reach, but it sure is gorgeous. Only accessible by seaplane or boat, the park comprises seven islands and a huge area of coral reefs and azure-blue waters. Its main feature of mighty Fort Jefferson, the Western Hemisphere’s biggest masonry structure. The remoteness of this East Coast park makes it a fantastic destination for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Ta'u Island, American Samoa National Park
Ta’u Island, American Samoa National Park: Photo on Flickr by US Department of the Interior / CC BY-SA 2.0

4. American Samoa National Park, American Samoa

The only American national park located south of the equator, American Samoa National Park is arguably the most exceptional of all parks. It lacks the usual visitor facilities of the parks in the continental USA, instead offering facilities situated in traditional Samoan villages. This gives a visit to this remote park an extra cultural layer, while its world-class coral reefs, rainforests, mountains and beaches make it a superb tropical destination as well.

Trunk Bay, Virgin Islands National Park
Trunk Bay, St John, Virgin Islands National Park: Photo on Flickr by Kent Kanouse / CC BY-NC 2.0

3. Virgin Islands National Park, US Virgin Islands

Possibly the single greatest national park for beach holidays in the USA, Virgin Islands National Park lies on St. John and Hassel Island in the tropical United States Virgin Islands. The park is especially famous for its world-class scuba diving and snorkeling. Other popular activities are simply sunbathing on its beaches or hiking along the coast.

Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California
Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park

2. Channel Islands National Park, California

Protecting five of the Channel Islands off the coast of Los Angeles, Channel Islands National Park is truly one of the great American national parks on islands. Channel Islands National Park preserves a huge amount of both cultural and natural resources, which include some of the oldest archaeological sites in North America, with a vast diversity of land and marine life. Easily reached by boat from Ventura, the park offers world-class scuba diving and sea kayaking. Spotting a humpback whale or two and a pod of dolphins on the way is not unusual.

Frenchman Bay in Acadia National Park - Best US National Parks on Islands
Frenchman Bay, Acadia National Park

1. Acadia National Park, Maine

New England’s only national park is also one of the top American national parks on islands. Located mainly on Mount Desert Island and a few other, smaller islands halfway up the Maine coast, Acadia National Park is a superb destination for relaxed summer holidays. You can bike the historic carriage roads, drive the Park Loop Road or hike various coastal mountains. Alternatively, you can also spend your days on Sand Beach.

Have You Ever Been to One (or More) of These American US Island National Parks?

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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