8 Waterfront National Parks to Visit This Earth Day 



Beachside hiking trails. Hidden coves. Majestic glaciers. When it comes to waterfront national parks, the United States is a treasure trove for outdoor enthusiasts. Check out this guide for some must-visit spots throughout the United States and its territories.

Acadia National Park

Rocky coast of Monument Cove in Acadia National Park, Maine, in the summer.

From Sand Beach to the picturesque Otter Point, Acadia National Park offers up to 64 miles of protected coastline to explore. Home to 158 hiking trails, this seaside national park provides adventures along the shore and more. Hike to Thunder Hole and hear the crashing waves that named the trail. Explore the tidepools and watch for sea creatures like periwinkle snails hiding in the reeds. Cast a line for cod and mackerel in Bar Harbor (permit required). Or, enjoy a guided horseback ride along the historic carriage trails.

Biscayne National Park

Aerial view of Biscayne National Park coastline.

Make a splash at Florida’s Biscayne National Park. Located adjacent to bustling Miami, this park is 95% underwater. Snorkel the Maritime Heritage Trail and swim among tropical fish and haunting shipwrecks. Kayak through the park’s massive mangroves, lagoons and creeks. Charter a boat to the Boca Chita Keys. At Shallow Jones Lagoon, see jellyfish, crabs and stingrays – it’s also a great spot to see local birds at the rookery. Before you leave, stop by the Visitor Center Gallery and admire Florida-inspired art by local artists.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Porcupine Bay at Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

In Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park, vibrant forests of green meet chilled waters and towering glaciers just a two-hour drive from Anchorage. Venture to Bear Glacier Lagoon for a kayaking or paddle boarding excursion with the stunning Bear Glacier as your backdrop. Hike the Harding Icefield Trail, where you’ll trek through forests of cottonwood trees, across expansive meadows and along frosty cliffsides for panoramic views of the coast. Guided boat tours are also available – keep an eye out for otters, sea lions and gray whales.

Volcanoes National Park

Lava flows in Volcanoes National Park.

Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park is located at the summit of two active volcanoes and home to Chain of Craters Road, a 19-mile stretch peppered with sights of dormant lava formations, steaming lava tubes, stunning pit craters, tropical rainforests, and Hawaii’s southeastern coastline. Stop by the Holei Sea Arch on the crumbling cliffside of a 550-year-old lava flow. Hike the Pu’uloa Petroglyphs Trail and hunt for the 23,000 geometric figures carved into hardened lava. Check out the Kilauea Visitor Center, meet with a ranger, and see the exhibits highlighting the region.

Virgin Islands National Park

Sugar plantation ruins in Virgin Islands National Park on St. John.

Discover white-sand beaches, picturesque coral reefs and historic sites at Virgin Islands National Park. Hike to Trunk Bay Beach for some relaxing fun in the sun. Take a dip and watch for arrow crabs scurrying about in the sand. On the Reef Bay Trail, look out for ancient Taino petroglyphs at the base of a waterfall. The Francis Bay Trail will take you to the ruins of an old sugar plantation, while the boardwalk offers birders the chance to see flycatchers and cuckoo birds in the mangroves.  

Redwood National Park

Rocky coast of Monument Cove in Acadia National Park, Maine, in the summer.

At Redwood National Park, ancient trees and spectacular coastlines await. Cruise along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through the heart of the impressive redwoods. Hike along the Coastal Trail and see the rocky sea stacks jutting out of the water. Play in the tide pools at False Klamath Cove, where sea stars, anemones and crabs live. For a day on the water, take a ranger-led kayaking tour of the Smith River. You’ll paddle through forests, encounter small rapids and learn about the region.

National Park of American Samoa

The coast and islands of the National Park of American Samoa.

Adventure is calling at the National Park of American Samoa! Hike through lush rainforests from Vatia Village to the stunning coast with a view of Pola Island. Spot World War II installations, climb the ladders to the remains of the Mount ‘Alava tramway and listen to local birds like wattled honeyeaters and Samoan starlings serenade the forest. Bring your own scuba gear and dive offshore at Tutuila Island. You may encounter parrotfish and other tropical sea life below the depths.

Indiana Dunes National Park

Pathway to Kemil Beach on a beautiful late summer morning. Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana, USA.

In the heart of the American Midwest, enjoy 15 miles of sandy beaches where Indiana meets Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Park. Walk among cottonwood trees and little bluestem grass on the Dune Ridge Trail for sweeping views of the Great Marsh, and stick around after dark for stargazing. The lake is perfect for a swim on a warm day or fishing for yellow perch and bass. Hop on a horse and spend an afternoon trotting along the Glenwood Dunes Trail.

Take this guide on the go with Apple Maps on your iPhone!

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