Whether it’s traversing aspen groves to reach an alpine lake or climbing a granite monolith by cable, there’s no better way to experience America’s national parks than on their trails. It is therefore not surprising that Americans are looking for the best national parks for hikingwith Zion National Park being the most wanted, according to Google.
According to search engine data that spans from 2004 to 2023, the southwestern Utah park, known as an adventurer’s paradise for its multicolored cliffs and canyons, was the top trending park for those who looking for hikes over the past two decades. From 424 sites managed by the National Park ServiceSion has long been a favorite spot for hikers and climbers, with everything from backcountry scrambles to easy trails that open up stunning vistas.
The five most sought-after national parks are complemented by many favorites, spread across the country. rocky mountain in Colorado came second, followed by Glacier in Montana, shenandoh in Virginia and Yosemite in California.
To find out where Americans are hiking in each park, we asked Google to pull up the most trending trails in each of the top five parks (also using data from 2004 to present). So lace up those boots, fill ’em up Bottles of waterand leave.
1. Zion National Park
THE 232 square miles Zion National Park traverses plateaus, canyons, and even a 2,000-foot sandstone cliff, from its low point of 3,666 feet at Coal Pits Wash to 8,726 feet at Horse Ranch Mountain, creating a playground for hikers composed of trails and varied landscapes. The 9.4 miles The gully The hike is the most popular, going through the thinnest section of Zion Canyon crossing the Virgin River (sometimes waist deep!).
The second and third most wanted both require permits, the 5.5 mile landing of angelsfollowed by Metro hike, also known as the Left Fork, which requires “extensive route research,” the park warns. Next is vantage pointcurrently closed due to landslide, and finally the emerald pools, a series of three trails. (The lower 1.2-mile Emerald Pools are rated as easy, while the 2.2-mile middle and upper 1-mile runs are moderate.)
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
The 415-square-foot Rocky Mountain National Park alpine setting with 355 miles of trails is one of the most glorious and soothing in the country for hiking, with crystal clear lakes and lush meadows amid rugged peaks. (Note reservations are currently required.) Emerald Lakea moderate, 4.1-mile round-trip trail, is the most sought after, first reaching lily-filled Nymph Lake, then Dream Lake before arriving at its namesake.
The 9 miles Sky Pond Hike includes waterfall views and a 100-foot rock run, followed by Bear Lake, a wheelchair accessible half mile loop with views of the Continental Divide and Hallett Peak. Then comes the long peak– which the park says is not a hike, but a climb recommended only for the more experienced – and finally the 4.2 mile trail to Chasm Lake, with an elevation gain of 2,390 feet.