The 100 Best National Parks in the World for Travelers to Visit – Part 5 (1-20)

The world is full of a diverse range of breathtaking landscapes, spectacular wildlife, and incredible wonders that will blow your mind. Thankfully, many of these amazing places have been protected for current and future generations to enjoy by being designated as National Parks. Each year, new parklands are protected for travelers to enjoy, so the list of wonderful places to visit is only growing. If you are anything like me, then you probably want to visit as many of these beautiful parklands as you can. Well, you are in luck because I have put together a list of the 100 best national parks in the world for travelers to visit.

Top National Parks in the World

We are at the last installment of my list of the 100 Best National Parks in the World for Travelers to Visit, so that means we will be covering some of the most spectacular national parklands across this beautiful planet. On my list of the top 1-20 national parks in the world, you will find some of the largest and most beautiful waterfalls in the world, some of the planet’s most iconic wildlife destinations, and landscapes that are so big and so incredible that you will need to see them with you own eyes to believe they are real. Without further ado, let’s count down the top parks on my list!

20. Gir National Park, India

Chances are, when someone mentions the native wildlife of India, the last thing that will come to your mind are lions. However, lions do live in India and that is what makes the Gir Forest National Park in India one of the top national parks in the world. Famous for being the last place on Earth where you can find the extremely endangered Asiatic lion, this small national park is a wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, western India. Although it was established to primarily protect the small remaining population of Asiatic lions, it is also home to leopards, crocodiles, pythons, various antelope species, and many different species of birds.

19. Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania

Top National Parks in the World

Each of the tallest mountains on the seven continents on Earth are special for their own reasons. While Mount Everest is notorious for being the tallest mountain in the world and the most dangerous of the Seven Summits, the tallest mountain in Africa is no slouch. Not only is Mount Kilimanjaro the tallest mountain in Africa, but it is also the highest single free-standing mountain above sea level in the world.

Another thing that Kilimanjaro has that the other peaks on the list lack is the incredible wildlife of Southeast Africa at its doorstep. That’s right, after you wrap up your ascent of Kilimanjaro, you can make a pit stop at a world-renown wildlife park like the Serengeti in Tanzania or the Masai Mara in Kenya for some time on safari as celebration.

Both of these iconic wildlife parks sit in the shadow of the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro. So, if you are looking to spice up your travel with a little adventure, I would strongly suggest considering the incredible Mount Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania for your next big trip.

18. Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, Japan

Top National Parks in the World

Speaking of iconic mountain parks, no list of the top national parks in the world would be complete without mentioned the famed Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, which is home to the legendary Mount Fuji. Known locally as Fugaku, Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, with a summit that sits 12,389 feet (or 3,776 meters) above sea level.

In fact, the mountain is so high that it can be seen all the way from Tokyo on a clear day. While the views of the mountain from the park below are breathtaking, the views from the top are beyond jaw-droppingly beautiful. You might think that a mountain this high would be difficult to climb, but it is really a manageable summit for those who are reasonably fit.

There are numerous starting points that you can start from, with some starting further up the mountain. This makes getting to the top of Mount Fuji possible for hikers of all different experience levels. That’s just another in a long list of reasons why Fuji Hakone Izu National Park should be on every national park enthusiast’s bucket list!

17. Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park, Italy

Top National Parks in the World

Although they may not be the highest mountains in the world, there is no doubt that the Dolomites of northeastern Italy are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful peaks that you will find anywhere in the world. That is why the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park is considered one of the top national parks in the world to visit and why it ranks so highly on my list.

While there is a lot to see and do in-and-around the park, one of my favorite spots is the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, also known as the Drei Zinnen. These three gorgeous, cragged, battlement-like peaks in the Sexten Dolomites are some of the most distinguishable mountain peaks in the world. Their sheer beauty is what makes them so recognizable and is a main reason why so many visitors flock to the park each year.

Even if you aren’t an alpinist looking to summit one of these incredible peaks, there is plenty of hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and other recreational activities in the park to enjoy making it popular amongst all types of visitors. So, when planning your next big national parks adventure, make sure you keep the beautiful Dolomites at the top of your list of parks to consider.

16. Kruger National Park, South Africa

The continent of Africa is chock-full of incredible wildlife parks, but few of them compared to the next park on list. In addition to having one of the highest concentrations of wildlife of any park in Africa and being home to the famed “Big Five” animals of Africa, the iconic Kruger National Park in South Africa is also renowned for being one of the easiest parks to visit for safari.

Not only do the paved roads within the park make Kruger one of the easiest places in Africa to go on a self-safari, but the fenced-off campgrounds and lodges make it one of the safest parks in Africa to stay in. However, this doesn’t mean that Kruger National Park has completely lost its wild side.

For those who wish to have a more authentic bush experience while visiting, the many surrounding private game reserves that make up the Greater Kruger National Park area provide that and more. By spending time in both Kruger National Park and in the reserves, you have one of the best chances of spotting all of the “Big Five” animals as you do anywhere in Africa. This is what makes Kruger National Park one of the top national parks in the world and is why it is so highly regarded on my list of the top parks.

15. Denali National Park, United States

Top National Parks in the World

Another mountain park that really doesn’t need much introduction is the amazing Denali National Park and Preserve in the state of Alaska in the United States. Formerly known as Mount McKinley National Park, Denali is located in the interior of Alaska and is one of the state’s many beautiful national parklands.

The park is centered around Denali, which is the tallest mountain in North America and one of the “Seven Summits” of the world. This makes the park a magnet for alpinists who look to reach the summit of this amazing mountain. However, you don’t need to be a climber to enjoy Denali National Park.

The low elevations of the park are home to some of North America’s most incredible wildlife, including black and brown bears, elk, grey wolves, Caribou, lynx, wolverines, and a variety of birds and small mammals.

There is also plenty of hiking trails to explore in the park, at various elevations depending on the time you have and your ability. So, whether you come to climb or just enjoy the views, Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the national parks in the world that all park enthusiasts must visit in their lifetime.

14. Banff National Park, Canada

Top National Parks in the World

While all of the Rocky Mountains in North America are beautiful, I happen to think the Canadian Rockies are especially stunning. This is especially true to the West of Calgary in the Banff National Park and Jasper National Park area.

Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful places in North America, if not the world, Banff National Park has been captivating visitors for centuries. With crystal clear emerald-colored lakes like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake that are surrounded by breathtaking mountain peaks that touch the clouds, the Banff area is the stuff that postcard makers dream of.

In addition to the stunning scenery, the area is also littered with incredible hiking trails, amazing Swiss chalet styled resorts, and some of North America’s most alluring wildlife. With so much to offer visitors, it isn’t a surprise to see Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada on any list of the top national parks in the world.

13. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

While many of the visitors who travel to Africa each year flock to parks like the Serengeti, Kruger, Chobe, and Hwange to see some of Africa’s “Big Five” animal species, there is a whole different wildlife experience in Africa that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Tucked high in the Virunga Mountains, which border the countries of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, you will find a population of the endangered mountain gorillas of Africa. These gentle giants are the largest primates in the world and at present day can only be found in this small pocket of Africa.

It is quite the hike up steep terrain to see them, but the reward is something you will remember for a lifetime. For such large creatures, they can be so delicate and gentle with one another. In my opinion, the two best parks to see the mountain gorillas in Africa are the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda and the iconic Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda.

In addition to seeing these beautiful animals, you will get to meet some of the nicest people on Earth and enjoy some of the most stunning vistas you will find anywhere in the world. So, before you book your next African safari, I would strongly consider taking a trip to see the mountain gorillas in Africa as well.

12. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Top National Parks in the World

When putting together any list of the top national parks in the world, there are some parklands that are just too epic to leave off, no matter what your preference of park type is. One of these such park is the infamous Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island.

It is within this park that you will find the iconic Milford Sound. Once called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by acclaimed writer Rudyard Kipling, Milford Sound is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places you will find in the entire world. It’s towering mountains that stretch right up to the coastline, which creates these absolutely spectacular sounds that are unrivaled in the world, make it one of most popular destinations for visitors to New Zealand.

However, it isn’t just the landscape that makes Fiordland National Park beautiful. Within Milford Sound, nearby Doubtful Sound, and in the waters surrounding the park you will often see killer whales, sea lions, dolphins, and even penguins playing in the water or searching for food. It is this combination of amazing wildlife encounters and sheer beauty that makes Fiordland National Park one of the most incredible national parklands in the entire world.

11. Yellowstone National Park, United States

Top National Parks in the World

The next national park on my list of the top national parks in the world for travelers to visit certainly doesn’t need any introduction. Not only is it one of the most famous national parks in the world, but it was also the first parkland in the entire world to receive the designation as a national park.

That’s right, the incredible Yellowstone National Park, which covers land in three American states, was the first piece of land in the world to be designated a national park. Set up to protect some of the most active geothermal features in the world, as well as the incredible wildlife ecosystem of the park, Yellowstone has been drawing visitors from around the world since 1872.

Some of the most popular features in the park include its geothermal geysers (such as the infamous Old Faithful geyser), its incredible hot springs (like the gorgeous Grand Prismatic Hot Spring), and its amazing waterfalls (like the infamous Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls).

In addition to its spectacular geothermal features, the park is also home to some amazing wildlife. This includes grizzly and black bears, grey wolves, Roosevelt elk, lynx, mountain lions, and the iconic North American bison. With so many incredible things to see and do, Yellowstone National Park is an absolute must-see for any national park enthusiast.

10. Iguazú Falls National Park, Brazil

For travelers who have visited the incredible Iguazú Falls National Park in Brazil, you won’t be surprised in the least bit that it has made it into the top 10 of my national parks in the world for travelers to visit. Situated along the Argentine-Brazil border, the Iguazú Falls are taller than Niagara Falls in North America and wider than the infamous Victoria Falls in Africa.

The fact that the falls are taller and about four times as wide as Niagara Falls once led Eleanor Roosevelt to exclaim when seeing Iguazú Falls, “Poor Niagara!”. Being so big and so beautiful probably explains why the falls are such a popular tourist destination.

Each year, over 1 million visitors travel to Iguazú Falls National Park. There, visitors can stand at a single point on the viewing platforms and be surrounded by an incredible 260 degrees of waterfall. Needless to say, this allows for some amazing photo opportunities.

However, it isn’t just the spectacular sights that draw people to Iguazú Falls National Park. The park is also home to and incredible array of wildlife, including the opossum. This is the only marsupial to be found outside of Australia. Just another incredible reason to visit Iguazú Falls National Park in Brazil if you are a national parks enthusiast!

9. Jotunheimen National Park, Norway

Old Norse legend talked of a mountainous region of Norway where trolls once lived. It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain peaks, enormous glaciers, breathtaking glacial rivers and lakes, and stunning waterfalls seemed to be fit for a land of giants. The land they were talking about is the famed Jotunheimen National Park and it is every bit as beautiful as the fables describe it as.

Widely considered to be one of the premier alpine hiking destinations in Europe, if not the world, Jotunheimen National Park has more than 50 marked trails that crisscross across the large, gorgeous landscape. Many travelers visit the park to conquer the renowned Galdhøpiggen summit hike, which ascends to the top of the 8,100-feet (or 2,469-meter) Galdhøpiggen mountain.

It is a strenuous hike, but the views are simply out of this world. However, you don’t need to be a serious alpine hiker to enjoy the beauty of the park. There are plenty of easier trails with beautiful views to enjoy, and plenty to do in-and-around the park when you aren’t on the trails. So, if you are looking for your next big hiking adventure, I implore you to consider the Jotunheimen National Park in Norway for your next national parkland adventure.

8. Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal

Let’s face it, no list of the top national parks in the world would be complete without mentioning one of the premier national parklands in the incredible Himalayan Mountain range. When it comes to mountain ranges, the Himalayas are the tallest, most beautiful, and in many ways the most daunting mountain range in the world.

And if you are looking at national parklands within the Himalayas, the Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal is the king of kings. In my opinion, no mountain parkland in the world showcases as many incredible mountain peaks and challenging hiking tracks as this renowned national park. Among other things, the park includes deep ravines, large glaciers, and some of the tallest peaks in the Himalayas for visitors to marvel at. This includes the legendary Mount Everest.

If you aren’t a climber, but are looking for the ultimate hiking adventure, you might want to test your mettle by hiking to the base camp for Mount Everest expeditions. This multi-day hike will provide you with some of the most memorable mountain vistas you will ever see and give you a taste of what the famed alpine explorers of yesteryear went thru to get to Everest.

However, you don’t need to be a die-hard hiker to enjoy the park. There are many trails within the park for hikers of varying experience levels and a countless number of viewpoints to enjoy the beauty of the Himalayas. So, if you feel like getting out and exploring the top of the world this year, I suggest considering the amazing Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal.

7. Ranthambore National Park, India

Next to the countries of Southeastern Africa, India is definitely one of the top wildlife destinations in the world. In fact, many wildlife enthusiasts would argue that it is the premier wildlife destination in the world. It is also a country that treasures and protects its wildlife like perhaps no other nation in the world.

While there are many wonderful wildlife parks that you can visit in India, my favorite is undoubtedly the incredible Ranthambore National Park near the town of Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, northern India. While once a royal hunting ground, it is now one of India’s premier habitats for tigers, leopards, crocodiles, and other amazing animals.

It isn’t one of India’s biggest national parklands, but it is one of its most famous because of the plentiful wildlife and the stunning landscapes. Beyond the wildlife, the park is also home to incredible landmarks such as the beautiful 10th-century Ranthambore Fort and the stunning Ganesh Mandir temple. However, most visitors who come to the park visit to see and photograph the incredible wildlife, which India and it’s amazing Ranthambore National Park are proud to showcase.

6. Victoria Falls National Park, Zimbabwe

If being home to the largest waterfall in the world doesn’t qualify you as being one of the top national parks in the world for travelers to visit, then I don’t know what does. When I started to put together this list of the world’s top national parklands, there was no doubt in my mind that the amazing Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe would be near the top of my list.

After getting a chance to visit Victoria Falls last year and see the staggering size and beauty of the falls, my opinion has been reinforced. You just don’t understand how large and spectacular the falls really are until you see it with your own eyes. Located on the Zambezi River, which forms a portion of the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the iconic Victoria Falls were named by the legendary British explorer of Africa, Dr. David Livingstone.

While the falls can be seen from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean side, I believe the best views are from the park in Zimbabwe. This is also where you will find the incredible statue of David Livingstone. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the Zambian side. While the views aren’t quite as good, this is where you will find the renowned “Devil’s Pool”. It is a spot where a natural tidal pool allows you to safely swim right up to the edge of the falls when water levels are lower.

Of course, the park is also home to some of Africa’s most incredible wildlife. While predators are rarely seen in the park, you still have a great chance of spotting elephants and some of Africa’s other beautiful wildlife. If you have extra time, there are also boat cruises that you can take on the Zambezi River that allow you to get a whole different perspective of the beautiful falls and the park’s amazing wildlife.

5. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

If you love mountain parks, you will have a hard time finding a national park in the world with more beautiful, pristine, and breathtaking mountain vistas as the incredible Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

The scraggly granite peaks have made this park an iconic destination for alpine climbers, hikers, and outdoor travel adventurers from around the world. However, the beauty of the park extends well beyond its beautiful mountain peaks. Inside the park you will find seemingly endless pine forests, beautiful emerald glacial lakes, and some of the largest glaciers in the world.

One of the most popular hikes to take within the park is the iconic “W” hike. This difficult, but rewarding, four-day hike takes you thru some of the park’s most beautiful landscapes. Although, it isn’t the only incredible hike in the park.

For those who may not be up for the challenges of the parks more difficult hikes, there are also many easier day hikes available and some incredible viewpoints for those who may not want to get out and trek. So, if you are an outdoor adventurer looking for a challenging mountain park to explore, look no further than the amazing Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonian Chile.

4. Galapagos National Park, Ecuador

While most wildlife travelers tend to focus a majority of their attention on the plains of southeastern Africa and the jungles of the Amazon and Asia, there are some iconic wildlife destinations outside of Africa and Asia as well. In fact, what I consider to be one of the most renowned wildlife destinations in the entire world is actually located off the coast of South America.

Loctated roughly 600 miles (or 965 kilometers) off the coast of Ecuador you will find the incredible Galápagos Islands. Made famous by the legendary scientist Charles Darwin’s study of evolution on the island back in 1835, the islands have become a magnet for travelers looking to explore the unique and incredible wildlife on land and in the ocean surrounding the island chain.

With their spectacular giant tortoises, unique marine iguanas (the only lizard in the world that feeds in the ocean), Galápagos sea lions, Galápagos penguins, beautiful blue-footed booby, many colorful finches, and variety of other bird and animal species, the Galápagos Islands are a wildlife destination like no other.

Visitors can choose to stay on land and use various tours to explore the island or live aboard one of the many boats that cruise between the islands as their hub for exploration. In addition to seeing the giant tortoises, snorkeling and scuba diving tours allow visitors to see schools of hammerhead sharks, the beautiful whale shark, green sea turtles, and a variety of other marine wildlife.

All of this is why the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador are undoubtedly one of the top wildlife destinations in the world and why the Galápagos National Park Reserve is one of the top national parks in the world.

3. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

While there are many wildlife parks in the world that could be considered the top wildlife park in the world, there is only one park that stands out in my mind as being the most incredible. Known for its beautiful, vast plains, incredible wildlife, and the iconic wildebeest migration, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is one of the most spectacular wildlife destinations you will find in the world.

Derived from the Maasai word siringit, meaning “endless plains”, the Serengeti is a wildlife enthusiasts dream. During the annual wildebeest migration, there are herds of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope as far as the eye can see. And in a landscape known for its vast plains, you can see for a long, long ways.

The entirety of the greater Serengeti ecosystem includes Serengeti National Park proper, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the Maswa Game Reserve, the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, and other conservation lands. These lands are traditional Maasai ancestorial lands, and visiting a Maasai village as part of your safari tour adds a rich cultural aspect to the incredible game viewing in the area.

The Maasai are some of the kindest people I have ever met, and their warmth and hospitality will melt your heart. Without a doubt, the Serengeti National Park and the surrounding conservation lands in Tanzania and Kenya is a once in a lifetime wildlife adventure that every national park enthusiast should experience in their lifetime.

2. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

If you love the Avatar movies and have always wanted to visit a landscape as surreal and as beautiful as those in the movies, then you are going to want to pay extra special attention to the number two park on my list. There are a lot of breathtakingly beautiful parks on my list of the top parks in the world for travelers to visit, but the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is unrivaled in its beauty.

Chances are, you will recognize this stunning parkland by the pictures. They are the ones of forests growing on towering rock stacks that look almost too beautiful to be real. Well, pinch yourself all you want, but this forest park is very much real, and it is very much a can’t miss destination for national park enthusiasts and travel photographers.

The towering rock columns with lush trees growing out of the top of them, all surrounding by a mystical fog, are what inspired James Cameron to create the stunning floating mountain landscape that you see in Avatar. Located in Hunan Province China, the park is chock-full of incredible hiking trails and breathtaking viewpoints that will absolutely take your breath away.

1. Grand Canyon National Park, United States

That brings us to the number one parkland on my list of the top national parks in the world for travelers to visit. Although it may not be the oldest national park in the world, and there are many parks in the world that rival it in beauty, I think the Grand Canyon National Park in the United States is the most spectacular park in the world.

If you haven’t been to the park, once you visit and see the enormity and sheer beauty of the canyon, you will understand just how special this park really is. Located in the northern region of the state of Arizona, the canyon is absolutely massive.

To give you an understanding of just how big it is, the park is roughly 1,904 square miles (or 4,931 square kilometers), which is larger than the American state of Rhode Island (which is only 1,212 square miles). In some sections, the Grand Canyon is over a mile deep (or 1.6 kilometers) and stretches over 10 miles (or 16 kilometers) across.

In addition to stopping at the park’s many viewpoints and hiking on the park’s many incredible trails, one of the most popular things to do in the Grand Canyon is to visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk. This viewpoint, built extending over the canyon, has a see-through floor and allows visitors to appreciate just how large and beauty the canyon is. So, if you are looking for an incredible national park adventure, I can think of no park better to visit than the amazing Grand Canyon National Park in the United States.

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