Best National Parks To Visit In Summer & Why

Are you looking for an outdoor vacation destination for your summer holidays? Well there’s no better outdoor destination than ALL of the national parks in the United States! But with so many parks in the national park system, sixty-three to be exact, which national park should you choose to visit in summer?

While all sixty-three national parks are beautiful in every season, some national parks are better suited towards visiting in the summer. Especially national parks that are located in the northern states. This is because the northern states are prone to long winters which can bring adverse winter conditions making travel to national parks located in the north difficult.

Also, national parks that receive snow during winter have limited access, meaning roads through these parks close down seasonally. Hiking trails may also not be accessible. For example, Yosemite National Park, Glacier National Park, and Craters of the Moon National Monument are all national parks with limited access in winter.

Personally, if I’m going to spend my money and time visiting a destination, I would like to see as many of the attractions and highlights as possible, therefore visiting parks with limited access is not beneficial. In my opinion, there are some national parks that are best suited to visiting in summer.

So which national parks are the best to visit in summer? To help you narrow down which national park you should choose to visit for your next trip, we have compiled a list of the best national parks to visit in summer!

Take a look at the list below to decide where to plan your next summer trip. For each park listed, you will find helpful planning information and reasons behind why the park is best suited to visiting in summer.

Best National Parks To Visit In Summer

Mt Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier National Park Is Best Visited In Summer

Mount Rainier National Park is a spectacular natural wonderland and home to iconic Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in the Pacific Northwest and the fifth highest summit in the lower forty-eight states.

Mount Rainier is an active volcano and is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States. This icy mountain has twenty-five named glaciers that are a must see when visiting this national park. Beautiful subalpine meadows and ancient temperate forests cloak the mountain’s slopes.

In summer, this park comes alive with gushing waterfalls, while meadows become blanketed with colorful wildflowers. Skies clear up and beautiful vistas become visible. The park’s most prominent residents, the marmots, are out in full force and busy looking for food to fill up for the next long winter.

There are so many reasons why Mt. Rainier National Park is so much better to visit in summer! Here are some of the top reasons why you should visit this national park during summer.

Why You Should Visit Mount Rainier National Park In Summer

The Pacific Northwest, particularly Western Washington, is prone to long, wet winters. The PNW’s infamous rainy weather means visiting this national park anytime outside of summer is likely to be a miserably wet experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind rainy weather. I have been a Washingtonian for the past several years, but here’s the thing about rainy days in Washington, wet weather is usually accompanied by fog and low lying clouds ALL DAY LONG. This means low visibility during your visit. What’s the point of visiting if you can’t see anything right?

And when winter comes around, this national park receives a ton of snow! In fact, the mountain itself is one of the snowiest places on earth!! Average annual snowfall at Mt. Rainier’s Paradise area is nearly 640 inches, which amounts to more than 53 feet!!! During the winter of 1971/1972, Paradise set the world record with a whopping 1,122 inches (93.5 feet/28.5m).

Once snowfall begins, some park roads begin to close for the season and driving on the remaining open roads through the park becomes a dangerous activity.

So if you would like to visit Mount Rainier National Park, summer is the best time of year to plan your trip! Keep in mind that due to the park’s high elevation, summer comes late here. The best time to plan your trip to Mount Rainier National Park is between mid-July and the end of September.

*I will mention that October is also not a bad time of year to visit Mount Rainier National Park, especially the eastern side of the park to see fall colors.

Here’s reason number two on why you should visit this national park in summer; to see Mount Rainier! Mount Rainier itself is the crowning glory of this national park so naturally you’ll want to be able to see this magnificent mountain during your visit.

Standing at 14,411 feet tall (4,392m), you would assume this mammoth-sized mountain would be hard to miss but Mount Rainier is notorious for almost always being enveloped by clouds. So much so, that there is actually a twitter page with thirty thousand followers called ‘Is Mt Rainier Out?‘.

Visiting in summer will offer the best chances of being able to view Mount Rainier, but even then it is not guaranteed. I remember the first time we visited Mount Rainier National Park in the middle of July. We had planned to only stay for a few days but day after day, we were disappointed because we couldn’t get a glimpse of his majesty. It wasn’t until a whole week had passed that Mount Rainier decided to make an appearance and we were able to move on with our road trip.

The last reason why Mt. Rainier is best visited in summer is due to the park’s spectacular wildflower display. Remember when I said summer comes late to Mount Rainier National Park? Well, spring bloom also comes late and the best time to witness the park’s explosion of colorful flowers is not in spring as you might imagine, but in summer. In fact, the best time of year to witness spring bloom in Mount Rainier National Park is around mid-July to early August. And trust me, it is worth planning a trip around!

Location: Mount Rainier is 2.5 hours south of Seattle, Washington, and 3 hours northeast of Portland, Oregon. See Mount Rainier National Park’s location here.

How To Get There: If you’re flying in, both Seattle and Portland Airport are great options, however Portland has more affordable hotels to choose from and is an easier city to navigate. Coming from Seattle head south on Interstate-5 then take Highway 7 straight to the park. Coming from Portland head north on Interstate-5 then take Highway 12 to Highway 7 to the park.

If you don’t want to drive, there are several companies that offer very reasonably priced tours to Mount Rainier National Park from Seattle. This day trip to Mt. Rainier from Seattle is the most popular tour and the cheapest. This all-inclusive small group tour also has rave reviews and comes with breakfast, coffee, tea, and snacks. There’s also this tour to Mt. Rainier which includes wine tasting in the Yakima Valley.

Where To Stay: There are two hotels located inside the park; the National Park Inn in Longmire, and Paradise Inn up at Paradise. Unlike most other national parks, there a plenty of lodging options near Mt. Rainier National Park. The closest place to stay near the park is Ashford and there are several nice hotels near Ashford to choose from, the two most popular being Nisqually Lodge and Paradise Village Hotel.

Packwood, located thirty miles away, is also a good area to stay. We’ve stayed at the Packwood Lodge before, a no-frills cute and cozy hotel with very friendly staff, and at the Elk Track Cabin, a rustic cabin on ten acres.

There are also loads of options when it comes to cabins and vacation homes in this part of Washington. This riverside tiny home comes with a hot tub and fireplace, but for something a little bigger, take a look at Mount Rainier Chipmunk Cabin, a beautiful home complete with Weber BBQ, picnic table, stringed lights, and outdoor fire pit with Adirondack chairs that take enjoying the great outdoors to the next level! See all cabins and vacation homes near Mount Rainier here.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park In Summer

Glacier National Park, along with Yellowstone and Yosemite, is probably the nation’s most popular national park and is even a bucket list destination for many travelers around the world. Without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful national parks in the country and one of the best parks to visit in summer.

This park protects over one million acres of pristine wilderness and is home to numerous ecosystems ranging from tundra to prairie, as well as melting glaciers, alpine meadows, hundreds of remarkably clear lakes, and more than one thousand species of plants.

If you’re looking for a destination loaded with outdoor adventure for your next summer vacation, you’ll want to put this national park at the top of your list. With over seven hundred miles of trails, Glacier National Park is a paradise for adventurous hikers. There are also two hundred waterfalls scattered throughout the park, and many opportunities to enjoy lake activities.

>>Read: 17 Breathtaking Hikes In Glacier National Park

Why You Should Visit Glacier National Park In Summer

The pièce de résistance and jewel in the crown of Glacier National Park is the Going-To-The-Sun Road, a fifty mile stretch of road that travels through the park’s high country taking motorists past countless jagged peaks, cedar forests, and unbelievably beautiful alpine scenery.

The Going-To-The-Sun Road is one of the highlights of Glacier National Park so you don’t want to miss driving this impressive stretch of road and seeing all of the amazing features along it.

If you do want the chance to drive Going-To-The-Sun Road, you’ll want to plan your trip to Glacier National Park in summer. This is because the road closes every year sometime in October and doesn’t reopen until June or July, once the road has been completely plowed.

Glacier National Park is also world renown for its incredible hiking trails like the Avalanche Lake Trail, the Highline Trail, the hike to Hidden Lake, and Grinnell Glacier. All of these trails are bucket list worthy hikes in the USA!

While Avalanche Lake can be hiked to in winter, all of the other hikes I mentioned are not accessible outside of the summer months. So if hiking is at the top of your list of things to do in Glacier National Park, you’ll definitely want to plan a visit in summer.

Paddle-boarding on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park during summer.

Lakes. The lakes in this national park are sublime. Whether you are looking at Lake McDonald, Saint Mary Lake, Two Medicine Lake, or Iceberg Lake, you will be awe-inspired.

While the lakes here are stunning at any given time of the year, the problem is that besides Lake McDonald, you won’t be able to access the roads that will take you to some of the most beautiful lakes in Glacier National Park. This is another reason why the best time of year to visit Glacier National Park is in summer.

If you visit Glacier National Park in summer, you’ll be able to partake in a range of lake activities like swimming, kayaking, or paddle-boarding on Lake McDonald. You can also go whitewater rafting, take scenic boat rides, and try your luck fishing in the park.

Here’s a guide on where and how to rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards on Lake McDonald, but if you’d prefer activities that are more of an adrenaline rush, consider booking this white-water rafting trip on the middle fork section of the Flathead River.

If you’re obsessed with wildlife like I am, you’ll be excited to know that Glacier National Park is one of the best places to view wildlife. This national park is home to many species including moose, black bears, grizzly bears, wolverines, Canadian lynx, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. The chances of you seeing them are highly likely but to increase the probability, you’ll want to visit in, you guessed it, summer!

During summer, you’re highly likely to bump into bighorn sheep, and possibly a grizzly bear too like we did on this hike to Grinnell Glacier. Was it terrifying you ask? Um, yes. Even if you don’t enjoy hiking, there are plenty of places throughout the park with almost guaranteed wildlife sightings.

You’ll one hundred percent want to take binoculars with you though to be able to view wildlife in the park. Seeing them in the wild is a once in a lifetime opportunity (unless you live in Montana or Wyoming) so you’ll want to make the most of it!

Location: Glacier National Park is located in Northwest Montana about forty minutes from the town of Kalispell. See Glacier National Park’s location here.

How To Get There: If you’re planning on flying to Glacier National Park, the closest airport is in Kalispell. You’ll need to rent a car in Kalispell to get to the park as there are no public transport options. I did meet a guy once while hiking in Glacier who told me he had caught an Uber to the park with his camping gear and then used the park’s shuttle bus to get around so there is that option too.

Another option is to fly into Missoula and rent a car there and drive up on a road trip so that you can visit other awesome places on the way like the Bison Range, Flathead Lake, and Whitefish.

Where To Stay: There are a few lodges inside the park like the Village Inn and Lake McDonald Lodge on the west side of the park, and Many Glacier Hotel and Swiftcurrent Motor Inn in Many Glacier, but these accommodations do get booked out months in advance.

If you can’t get a room inside the park, try the Belton Chalet in West Glacier or Cedar Creek Lodge in Columbia Falls. For a truly unique experience, check out Under Canvas who offer luxury glamping.

On the east side of the park, you should try St. Mary Village, a country style lodge with cute rooms, an onsite restaurant, and bar, located right outside of the Saint Mary entrance to Glacier National Park.

If you’d prefer to camp, you’ve got loads of options both inside and outside of the park. See this guide to camping in Glacier National Park for a full run down on campgrounds in the area.

Are You Looking For More Information On Glacier National Park?
See This Complete Guide To Visiting Glacier National Park.

Yellowstone National Park

Blue Hot Spring In Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is full of natural wonders that will certainly take your breath away. From brightly colored boiling hot springs to other astonishing geothermal features like geysers, and seemingly endless valleys abundant with wildlife, you are sure to have an exhilarating experience.

Yellowstone, which is America’s first national park, spans 2.2 million acres comprising of impressive canyons and rivers, lakes, and mountain ranges. There are so many reasons why this park is one of the most unique destinations in the world.

To begin with, the whole park sits on top of a giant super-volcano and although it is considered dormant at the moment, it has erupted several times in the last two million years. Yellowstone is home to over half of the world’s geysers and other hydrothermal features so you can witness a multitude of geologic wonders here like the Old Faithful Geyser. Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake inside the park, is the largest high elevation lake you can visit in North America.

The park is also one of the best and most well-known places in the world to observe megafauna in the wild like grizzly bears, wolves, and bison.

Recreational opportunities abound from hiking to fishing, sightseeing, road-tripping, camping, and boating. There is so much to see in Yellowstone that you would need at least one to two weeks in the park to see most of the top attractions.

While Yellowstone is a stunning year-round destination, summer is when the park truly comes to life; rivers are raging, waterfalls are fast flowing, the grass is lush and green, and wildlife are a hive of activity. Every American should see Yellowstone National Park in its full summer glory at least once in their lifetime.

Hot Spring In Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The colors of this geothermal pool really pop under bright blue summer skies in Yellowstone National Park.

Summer is the most popular time to visit Yellowstone National Park and rightly so. Summer, particularly July and August, is when the park comes to life. As mentioned already, during summer, rivers are fast flowing, the grass is lush and green, and wildlife is absolutely everywhere you look.

July and August are the warmest months in Yellowstone National Park with daytime temperatures somewhere between 65-80F (20-27C), but by mid-September temperatures drastically begin to drop and it may even snow.

Basically, you only have a short window to fully enjoy summer in Yellowstone which is one of the reasons why the park is busiest at this time of year. That, and many families with young children usually only have these two months off from school.

The drawback of visiting Yellowstone in summer is that it is obviously very crowded and a time when millions of tourists from around the country and overseas come to visit. Some would argue that summer is actually a terrible time to visit Yellowstone because of the hoards of people. Yes, it is very true that many of the park’s top attractions are packed with people, and it can be terribly frustrating driving around in circles at parking lots trying to get a spot.

But there are many ways you can avoid the masses in Yellowstone during summer so don’t let this be the reason that scares you off from visiting at this time of year.

Because the park is so magical in summer, I would argue that it’s totally worth dealing with the huge crowds. You’ll soon forget about the frustrating aspects of visiting Yellowstone in summer once you experience the famed bison traffic jams, spot a grizzly bear gnawing on an elk carcass, or see Old Faithful blast water twenty feet into the air.

Why You Should Visit Yellowstone National Park In Summer

Yellowstone National Park In Summer

Summer is basically the only season you can enjoy the park to its fullest. All of the roads and sections of the park including the Lamar Valley are accessible during summer. Once snow falls, most of the roads inside the park close making many sections of the park inaccessible such as the Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs.

So when does it begin to snow in Yellowstone? As early as October! Possibly even the end of September!! Yellowstone experiences long snowy winters so most of the park will remain closed until June. Do you see now why it’s best to visit in July and August?

Another reason why summer is the best time of year to visit Yellowstone is because of the long daylight hours. Long daylight hours mean you’ll be able to pack in a lot more sights and activities into your itinerary. In a park with an abundance of natural attractions, you’ll need a lot of time to be able to see the many highlights scattered across Yellowstone.

When days are long and it’s light outside until 8 or 9pm, you’ll have more time for exploring which is necessary in a huge national park like Yellowstone where it can take over an hour just to drive between each of the different sections in the the park.

But even if you don’t want to spend all your time rushing from one attraction to the next, long daylight hours are also great for those of you who want to take it easy. You can picnic for hours and soak in the wonderful, once in a lifetime views late into the evening.

Summer is also a great time to see the park’s famous residents. Wildlife in Yellowstone take full advantage of summer and are busy throughout the park trying to stock up on food before another long winter sets in.

You might see a grizzly roaming in the valley or wolves frolicking with their pups in Lamar Valley. If seeing wildlife while in the park is a priority for you, you’ll definitely want to visit in summer.

Location: Yellowstone National Park borders the town of West Yellowstone, and is three hours south of Bozeman, Montana, two hours west of Cody, Wyoming, and two hours north of Jackson, Wyoming.

How To Get There: The closest airport to Yellowstone National Park is in Jackson, Wyoming. From here, you need to rent a car and drive about two hours north on Highway 191. You’ll pass Grand Teton National Park on the way so if you have time, you should plan for a few days there too.

Where To Stay: Summer is Yellowstone’s busiest time of year and hotels and campgrounds here fill up months in advance if not a year out. If you want to stay inside the park, you’ll need to book your room or campsite well in advance!

Hotels inside Yellowstone National Park include Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Canyon Lodge & Cabins. If you want to stay outside of the park, look for hotels in West Yellowstone, or to be closer to the Lamar Valley and the northern section of the park, look for hotels in Gardiner or Cooke City.

Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park In Summer

Glacier Bay National Park is wild and remote, and can only be accessed by boat. The park which protects 600,000 acres of marine ecosystems, is named for its abundant tidewater and terrestrial glaciers numbering 1,045 in total. There are seven tidewater glaciers in the park and four of them actively calve icebergs into the bay.

Intrepid travelers willing to make the effort to reach Glacier Bay National Park will be rewarded with vistas of the Fairweather Mountain Range and experience pretty inlets and serene coves covered in emerald forests.

Although visitors can fly to Gustavus from Juneau and then organize a boat ride to the park, about eighty percent of visitors to Glacier Bay National Park arrive on cruise ships. This is because it is the easiest and most affordable way to visit the park. We chose to visit by cruise ship because it was just easier to organize a cruise trip rather than organizing flights, boats and lodging separately.

Cruising is also a lot more cost effective by having hotel accommodations, meals, and sightseeing, all rolled into one price. Of course, cruising is also awesome too!

In fact, if it hadn’t been for us exploring alternative ways to visit Alaska and Glacier Bay National Park, I don’t think we would ever have given the cruising experience a chance.

We fell in love with cruising (cruising to Alaska in particular), and have been twice to Alaska by cruise already and hope to one day turn it into an annual trip. I can’t recommend cruising to Alaska enough. Not only will you be able to tick one of the least visited national parks off your national park bucket list, but you’ll also witness spectacular scenery in Southeast Alaska for an entire seven days.

Why You Should Visit Glacier Bay National Park In Summer

Glacier Bay National Park is ONLY open during summer so obviously, summer is the best season to visit this national park! The park typically opens on Memorial Weekend and closes on Labor Day (June to end of August).

Alaska Airlines provides a daily jet service from Juneau to Gustavus which takes about thirty minutes. This service is only available in summer.

If you are considering visiting Glacier Bay by cruise ship ( I highly recommend this option), the Alaska cruising season starts in May and finishes at the end up September. This means you’ll have the option of visiting in late spring as well as summer.

One of the great things about visiting Alaska in summer is the extended daylight hours this state receives. Even in Southeast Alaska, which is at a much lower latitude than the rest of the state, it will be light outside until at least 11pm, and after the sun sets, twilight will set in.

Why am I telling you this? Because if you choose to cruise, some of the cruise lines like Princess arrive in Glacier Bay around 3am so if you want to wake up early and beat all the other guests onto the deck, you can and it will likely be light enough to take in the views.

Lastly, summer is the best time of year to see glaciers carving. If you haven’t witnessed this phenomenon before, it is a truly incredible thing to see. Even on the cruise ships which are not allowed to get too close to land, you can easily hear the thunderous crashing of ice falling into the sea from a distance.

The cruise ships typically spend a full day in Glacier Bay including a stop at one of the major tidewater glaciers so you’ll have plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the views.

Once the cruise ships arrive in Glacier Bay National Park, park rangers will board the ship and provide educational presentations to explain some of the history, ecology, and geology of the park. They can also answer any questions you may have. If you are collecting passport stamps in your national park passport, staff will have passport book cancellation stamps on board with them.

Location: Glacier Bay National Park lies west of Juneau, in Southeast Alaska.

How To Get There: Glacier Bay National Park can be reached by boat from Bartlett Cove. To get to Bartlett Cove, you’ll need to fly to Gustavus, a small town located ten miles from the park’s visitor center. The only flights to Gustavus are from Juneau. As mentioned already, the only other way to visit this national park is by cruise ship.

Where To Stay: The Glacier Bay Lodge, located underneath a stand of Sitka spruce trees in Bartlett Cove, is the only hotel accommodations in the park. Rooms are very cozy and there is a restaurant onsite serving fresh Alaskan seafood like halibut and salmon. The lodge also offers tours of Glacier Bay National Park.

If you’re interested in taking a cruise to Glacier Bay National Park, take a look at Princess Cruises, Holland America, and Norwegian, who are the only cruise lines permitted to enter this national park.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park Is One Of The Best National Parks To Visit In Summer

Crater Lake National Park protects the deepest, and one of the most pristine lakes in the United States. The striking royal blue lake was formed 7,700 years ago when a volcano violently erupted triggering the collapse of its peak, creating a six mile wide caldera.

This lake that fills the caldera is entirely fed by rain and snow, which is why the lake’s water is so pure and clear. The lack of floating particles is what helps to keep the water so remarkably clear.

The best way to see and experience this national park is by taking the scenic drive around Crater Lake, a trip that takes approximately one hour (without stopping at any of the viewpoints or taking on any of the hikes found along the way).

Upon entering the park, your first stop should be the Steel Visitor Center located on the south side of the lake for a quick introduction to the park’s geologic and human history. There is also a 22 minute park film that will arm you with knowledge about the area.

Although Crater Lake is stunning in winter, and offers a range of winter activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the majority of visitors come to Crater Lake National Park between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the weather is pleasant with 70 to 80°F temperatures. 

Why You Should Visit Crater Lake National Park In Summer

The main reason you should visit Crater Lake National Park in summer is because it is very difficult to visit anytime other than this season. The park receives around forty-two feet of snow most years so as you can imagine, it is hard to keep up with plowing the roads inside the park.

Although the west and south entrance roads are plowed daily throughout winter, the north entrance and Rim Drive are closed seasonally. While Crater Lake is picturesque and beautiful to photograph in winter, the problem is picture perfect days with lake views are not the average experience in winter because the lake is obscured fifty percent of the season by clouds and snowstorms. Snow usually begins falling in October and continues into June.

The first time we visited Crater Lake National Park in winter, we got lucky with blue skies and although I am glad we got the see the lake surrounded in a blanket of snow, it was disappointing to not be able to drive around the lake or hike.

You may be thinking what about visiting in spring? Well, visiting in spring can be a bit of a gamble because the weather may bring sunny skies of severe snowstorms. In May, average snowfall is twenty inches and in June the park receives an average of four inches. Plus it’s still really cold, even in spring.

Basically, summer is the ideal time to visit Crater Lake National Park because this is when the weather is most predictable. Not only that, but the park’s Visitor Center will be open, as well as all of the roads through the park, most importantly, the scenic road around Crater Lake.

In summer, you can circumnavigate the historic Rim Drive, a 33 mile scenic road that loops around Crater Lake offering stunning lake and forest views plus access to panoramic vista points, picnic sites, and hiking trails.

Another great reason to visit Crater Lake in summer is because you’ll be able to experience the lake up close. From on the water to be exact!

During summer, the park operates daily boat tours on Crater Lake. Onboard are park rangers that will provide information on the park’s geologic history and other interesting information. The two hour boat ride cruises around the lake’s perimeter stopping at natural formations like Wizard Island where you can hop off and hike or swim.

Location: Crater Lake National Park is two hours northeast of Medford, and two hours south from Bend, Oregon.

How To Get There: If you are driving up from California, take Interstate-5 to Klamath Falls and then Highway 97 and Highway 62 to the park. If you are on your way up to Portland, see this post to the best stops on Highway 97 through Central Oregon. You can also easily visit on a day trip from Bend or Eugene.

Where To Stay: Visitors can choose to stay at Crater Lake Lodge which sits on the rim of the lake or The Cabins at Mazama Village, both are only open between mid-May and the end of September. There are also two campgrounds inside the park.

Just like most other lodging inside national parks, the lodging at Crater Lake National Park books out months in advance, especially considering the short window of opportunity to visit. Because this national park is quite remote, hotels nearest Crater Lake National Park are thirty miles away and limited.

The best option for accommodations outside of this national park are vacation homes in the area. There are a number of cozy cabins at surprisingly reasonable rates near Crater Lake such as this super cute 1960s A-frame at Rocky Point.

Also, this custom built, two- bedroom home in the Cascade Mountains with rave reviews is also worth looking at. The property sits on a wooded acre and has a porch with Adirondack chairs to take in the serenity of the area.

Harriman Resort and Marina also have several nice cabins, plus an onsite restaurant and bar. The resort is located on the waterfront and offers boat, kayak, and paddleboard rentals.

Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park In Summer

Voyageurs National Park is a watery wonderland in Northern Minnesota that straddles the Canadian border. The park is largely made up of vast lakes, islands, and boreal forest, which can only be explored by canoe. Yup, this wilderness area is mostly only accessible by boat!

Don’t worry though, it doesn’t mean you need to arrive with your own boating equipment to enjoy this place as there are many outfitters in the area that can set you up with a canoe for the day. Canoes can be rented from most lodges and resorts in the area and will only set you back about $30 a day.

Voyageurs National Park is also the only national park in the U.S. that you can houseboat on! How’s that for a unique experience?! It’s definitely something that should be put on your USA bucket list!!

Summer is the best time to visit Voyageurs National Park and you can expect the park’s lakes to be dotted with houseboats, canoeists, kayakers, and fishermen.

*This national park is also on the list for best national parks to visit in autumn as the area puts on a magnificent display of fiery colors.

Why You Should Visit Voyageurs National Park In Summer

As I already mentioned, most of this national park is only accessible by water. Canoes are the most popular way to explore the mosaic of waterways here and you’ll have a much more pleasant experience during the summer when temperatures are warmer outside.

If you’re not from the northern states, even summer temperatures might be too cool for you so you really don’t want to plan a trip outside of this season when it gets really cold! Being out on open waters in icy-cold wind is no fun, plus you’ll miss out on the incredible experience of gliding through tranquil waters if you visit outside of summer.

You’ll also have to remember that summers in Minnesota are very short, and even by September the temperatures will begin to drastically drop so July and August are the most ideal months to plan a trip.

Best National Parks To Visit In Summer
A campsite at Voyageurs National Park.

Camping in Voyageurs is unlike camping at other national parks. At this national park, you won’t be forced to camp in crowded campgrounds with hundreds of other noisy people. Nope. This park has designed all of the campsites here to be completely secluded. Some of these campsites are even located on their very own island!

Sounds incredible right? So why would you want to ruin your unique camping experience in the park by planning a trip during a season where the chances of bad weather are more likely? Summer is the ideal time to camp in Northern Minnesota before night time temperatures start to plummet.

Because Voyageurs National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the system, you should have no trouble scoring a campsite. All of the campsites come with a dock, fire ring, picnic table, and pit toilet.

Summer in Voyageurs National Park is fishing season! It’s no secret Minnesotans are passionate about fishing so naturally the park is a popular destination for fishing among locals.

You can fish absolutely anywhere inside the park’s boundaries except Beast Lake. There are over fifty species of fish here including walleye, northern pike, black crappie, smallmouth bass, perch, muskies, and even sturgeon. Many fishermen consider the park’s waters to have some of the best walleye fishing in the country and some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in Minnesota.

Imagine spending a few days canoeing or boating, camping under the stars on your own personal island, and catching your own dinner to enjoy on those warm summer nights. Does it sound like the ideal vacation for you? If so, you’ll certainly want to plan a trip to Voyageurs National Park for your next summer getaway.

Location: Voyageurs National Park is located 276 miles from Minneapolis (4 1/2hrs) and 144 miles from Duluth (2.5hrs) in Minnesota.

How To Get There: The best way to get there is to fly into Minneapolis Airport and rent a vehicle to drive to the park. Because it is a rather long drive from Minneapolis to Voyageurs, I suggest turning your national park trip into a road trip that takes in some of Lake Superior’s gorgeous shoreline on this road trip of Minnesota’s North Shore.

Where To Stay: Look for hotels near Rainy Lake Visitor Center in International Falls. The Cantilever Hotel is the top choice in International Falls because not only are the rooms elegant, featuring live edge desks and plush carpet, but also because this hotel has an onsite distillery! Other features of this hotel include a hot tub on the rooftop patio, sauna, restaurant, and rooftop terrace. The Cobblestone Hotel is also a great option with exceptionally great reviews.

If you’d prefer to be closer to Kabetogama Lake, take a look at these resorts on Kabetogama Lake. Another option is to search for vacation homes near Voyageurs National Park if hotels are booked out.

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Which national park on this list are you considering visiting in summer? Have you been to any of them in summer already? Please share your thoughts and experiences with our travel community in the comments below.

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