Celebrate Our Smallest National Parks
U.S. National Park Week, a celebration of the lands from sea to shining sea, starts April 16, and it’s a time the big guys get even more recognition. Places like Yosemite and Denali make the headlines during this week of events and free entry to parks, but this year we want to celebrate the little guy.
At Travelzoo, we’ve seen more interest this year in domestic travel, and the most popular parks — Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier — are often at capacity or sell out early in the season. Our recommendation? Check out these 10 smallest national parks and how much they have to offer.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, about 5,550 acres
Considered “America’s Spa,” this park right outside the city offers several different ways to soak and relax, from outdoor pools to indoor options. It’s a popular picnic spot as well. The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock is an hour’s drive away.
American Samoa National Park, about 9,000 acres
The only U.S. National Park south of the equator, it’s home to flora and fauna visitors would never find in the continental U.S. It’s also one of the most undeveloped parks in the entire system.
Virgin Islands National Park, about 14,737 acres
Most visitors to the U.S. Virgin Islands step foot onto the national park without even know it. The park covers approximately 60% of the island. The Westin St. John Resort serves as the perfect home base with its close proximity to the park and sprawling pool that’s one of the largest in the Caribbean.
Congaree National Park in South Carolina, about 26,545 acres
Here visitors find astonishing views and the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the country. About 23 miles away is the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
Pinnacles National Park in California 80 miles southeast of San Jose, about 26,605 acres
The country’s newest national park is a favorite spot of climbers and hikers. It’s an easy day trip from the historic Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose where we have a deal that includes buffet breakfast and a bottle of wine.
Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, about 28,295 acres
Set out for an authentic prairie experience while spotting bison and elk. More adventurous visitors can explore the complex cave network.
Haleakalā National Park on Maui, about 29,093 acres
This park may be one of the smallest in the country, but the summit of Haleakalā is at a staggering 10,000 ft. A scenic 1.5-hour drive from the national park, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa makes up for any lack in size of Haleakalā with 87,000 square-feet of aquatic wonderland.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland, about 32,860 acres
Come in August to start spotting bald eagles; guests before then can ride, walk or run the Ohio & Erie Towpath Trail. Cleveland’s first Kimpton hotel is less than 30 minutes away, and in true Kimpton fashion, guests at The Schofield receive complimentary bike rentals and wine evenings.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado, about 32,950 acres
This park contains some of the steepest cliffs in North America. Best time to visit is in the warmer months, trails can close during harsh winter conditions. For more hiking trails, head to the base of Mt. Crested Butte where we have a deal at the Elevation Hotel & Spa with buffet breakfast and room upgrade, upon availability.
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, about 35,835 acres
Have you ever seen a hoodoo? They are strange-looking pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion. Nature lovers can post up at the nearby Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, just 1.5 miles from the national park, before venturing to see these famous red rock formations.