Closest national parks to Denver

Written by:
July 13, 2022
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Closest national parks to Denver

Approximately 237 million people visited American national parks in 2020, representing a 28% year-over-year decrease attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Many parks were forced to close to combat the spread of the virus, but that’s not the whole story—when the parks were open, many of them saw record crowds as throngs of people desperate to safely enjoy nature descended onto parks when they reopened.

President Woodrow Wilson in 1916 signed the act creating the National Park Service to leave natural and historic phenomenons “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Since then, our national parks have welcomed visitors from around the world to experience some of the best the country has to offer and showcase the country’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. Today, the country's 63 national parks contain at least 247 species of endangered or threatened plants and animals, more than 75,000 archaeological sites, and 18,000 miles of trails.

Stacker compiled a list of the closest national parks to Denver. National parks are ranked by closest straight line distance, measured from representative points in Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area and each national park. Estimated driving times are from Here and are only available within the lower 48 states. All featured distances and driving times are estimated using representative locations from the center of each metro and national park—for some places within the metro area, the actual distance may be slightly shorter or longer to reach the closest entryway to a park.

Be sure to check with individual parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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#1. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 76 miles
- Driving time: 2.2 hours
- Date founded: January 26, 1915
- 2020 visitors: 3,305,199 (#4 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 265,807.25 acres
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#2. Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 122 miles
- Driving time: 3.5 hours
- Date founded: September 24, 2004
- 2020 visitors: 461,532 (#32 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 107,341.87 acres
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#3. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 163 miles
- Driving time: 5.2 hours
- Date founded: October 21, 1999
- 2020 visitors: 341,620 (#39 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 30,779.83 acres
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#4. Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 249 miles
- Driving time: 7.3 hours
- Date founded: June 29, 1906
- 2020 visitors: 287,477 (#42 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 52,485.17 acres
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#5. Arches National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 256 miles
- Driving time: 6.1 hours
- Date founded: November 12, 1971
- 2020 visitors: 1,238,083 (#17 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 76,678.98 acres

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#6. Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 284 miles
- Driving time: 13.1 hours
- Date founded: September 12, 1964
- 2020 visitors: 493,914 (#30 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 337,597.83 acres
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#7. Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 295 miles
- Driving time: 5.6 hours
- Date founded: January 9, 1903
- 2020 visitors: 448,405 (#33 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 33,970.84 acres
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#8. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 323 miles
- Driving time: 6.7 hours
- Date founded: November 10, 1978
- 2020 visitors: 916,932 (#21 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 242,755.94 acres
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#9. Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 349 miles
- Driving time: 7.6 hours
- Date founded: December 18, 1971
- 2020 visitors: 981,038 (#20 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 241,904.50 acres
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#10. Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 404 miles
- Driving time: 8.9 hours
- Date founded: December 9, 1962
- 2020 visitors: 384,483 (#38 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 221,390.21 acres

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#11. Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 415 miles
- Driving time: 9.6 hours
- Date founded: February 25, 1928
- 2020 visitors: 1,464,655 (#15 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 35,835.08 acres
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#12. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

- Distance: 426 miles
- Driving time: 8.5 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1929
- 2020 visitors: 3,289,638 (#5 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 310,044.36 acres
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#13. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

- Distance: 458 miles
- Driving time: 9.5 hours
- Date founded: March 1, 1872
- 2020 visitors: 3,806,306 (#2 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 2,219,790.71 acres
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#14. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 459 miles
- Driving time: 11.4 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 2,897,098 (#6 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,201,647.03 acres
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#15. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 464 miles
- Driving time: 8.6 hours
- Date founded: December 20, 2019[111]
- 2020 visitors: 415,383 (#34 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 146,344.31 acres

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#16. Zion National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 466 miles
- Driving time: 10.1 hours
- Date founded: November 19, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 3,591,254 (#3 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 147,242.66 acres
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#17. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 502 miles
- Driving time: 9.3 hours
- Date founded: May 14, 1930
- 2020 visitors: 183,835 (#45 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 46,766.45 acres
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#18. Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

- Distance: 505 miles
- Driving time: 10.1 hours
- Date founded: October 27, 1986
- 2020 visitors: 120,248 (#50 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 77,180.00 acres
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#19. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 518 miles
- Driving time: 10.3 hours
- Date founded: October 15, 1966
- 2020 visitors: 151,256 (#49 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 86,367.10 acres
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#20. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

- Distance: 525 miles
- Driving time: 10.2 hours
- Date founded: November 10, 1978
- 2020 visitors: 551,303 (#28 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 70,446.89 acres

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#21. Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 586 miles
- Driving time: 12.6 hours
- Date founded: October 14, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 762,226 (#24 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 92,867.42 acres
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#22. Death Valley National Park (California, Nevada)

- Distance: 688 miles
- Driving time: 13.4 hours
- Date founded: October 31, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 820,023 (#22 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,408,406.73 acres
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#23. Big Bend National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 708 miles
- Driving time: 14.6 hours
- Date founded: June 12, 1944
- 2020 visitors: 393,907 (#37 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 801,163.21 acres
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#24. Joshua Tree National Park (California)

- Distance: 724 miles
- Driving time: 15.6 hours
- Date founded: October 31, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 2,399,542 (#10 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 795,155.85 acres
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#25. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

- Distance: 738 miles
- Driving time: 14.2 hours
- Date founded: March 4, 1921
- 2020 visitors: 1,348,215 (#16 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 5,554.15 acres

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#26. Kings Canyon National Park (California)

- Distance: 765 miles
- Driving time: 21.3 hours
- Date founded: March 4, 1940
- 2020 visitors: 415,077 (#35 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 461,901.20 acres
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#27. Sequoia National Park (California)

- Distance: 780 miles
- Driving time: 20.0 hours
- Date founded: September 25, 1890
- 2020 visitors: 796,086 (#23 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 404,062.63 acres
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#28. Glacier National Park (Montana)

- Distance: 788 miles
- Date founded: May 11, 1910
- 2020 visitors: 1,698,864 (#13 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,013,125.99 acres
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#29. Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)

- Distance: 793 miles
- Driving time: 12.2 hours
- Date founded: February 22, 2018[47]
- 2020 visitors: 486,021 (#31 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 192.83 acres
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#30. Yosemite National Park (California)

- Distance: 797 miles
- Driving time: 20.2 hours
- Date founded: October 1, 1890
- 2020 visitors: 2,268,313 (#12 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 761,747.50 acres

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#31. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

- Distance: 865 miles
- Driving time: 17.7 hours
- Date founded: April 8, 1975
- 2020 visitors: 263,091 (#44 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 218,222.35 acres
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#32. Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)

- Distance: 883 miles
- Driving time: 18.1 hours
- Date founded: August 9, 1916
- 2020 visitors: 542,274 (#29 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 106,589.02 acres
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#33. Channel Islands National Park (California)

- Distance: 887 miles
- Date founded: March 5, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 167,290 (#47 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 249,561.00 acres
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#34. Pinnacles National Park (California)

- Distance: 910 miles
- Driving time: 18.7 hours
- Date founded: January 10, 2013
- 2020 visitors: 165,740 (#48 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 26,685.73 acres
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#35. Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

- Distance: 927 miles
- Driving time: 19.4 hours
- Date founded: May 22, 1902
- 2020 visitors: 670,500 (#26 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 183,224.05 acres

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#36. Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)

- Distance: 950 miles
- Driving time: 15.5 hours
- Date founded: February 15, 2019
- 2020 visitors: 2,293,106 (#11 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 15,349.08 acres
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#37. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 991 miles
- Driving time: 19.3 hours
- Date founded: March 2, 1899
- 2020 visitors: 1,160,754 (#18 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 236,381.64 acres
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#38. Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

- Distance: 1,010 miles
- Driving time: 20.6 hours
- Date founded: April 3, 1940
- 2020 visitors: 6,493 (#59 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 571,790.30 acres
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#39. Redwood National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,014 miles
- Driving time: 23.0 hours
- Date founded: October 2, 1968
- 2020 visitors: 265,177 (#43 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 138,999.37 acres
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National Park Service/Deby Dixon // Wikimedia Commons

#40. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,030 miles
- Driving time: 22.6 hours
- Date founded: October 2, 1968
- 2020 visitors: 30,885 (#56 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 504,780.94 acres

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#41. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

- Distance: 1,032 miles
- Driving time: 17.1 hours
- Date founded: July 1, 1941
- 2020 visitors: 290,392 (#41 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 54,011.91 acres
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#42. Olympic National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,098 miles
- Driving time: 23.1 hours
- Date founded: June 29, 1938
- 2020 visitors: 2,499,177 (#9 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 922,649.41 acres
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#43. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina, Tennessee)

- Distance: 1,199 miles
- Driving time: 20.7 hours
- Date founded: June 15, 1934
- 2020 visitors: 12,095,720 (#1 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 522,426.88 acres
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#44. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

- Distance: 1,235 miles
- Driving time: 20.3 hours
- Date founded: October 11, 2000
- 2020 visitors: 2,755,628 (#7 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 32,571.88 acres
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#45. New River Gorge National Park (West Virginia)

- Distance: 1,286 miles
- Driving time: 20.9 hours
- Date founded: December 27, 2020
- 2020 visitors: 1,054,374 (#19 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 7,021 acres

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Jtmartin57 // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

- Distance: 1,392 miles
- Driving time: 24.6 hours
- Date founded: November 10, 2003
- 2020 visitors: 119,306 (#51 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 26,476.47 acres
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#47. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

- Distance: 1,426 miles
- Driving time: 24.4 hours
- Date founded: December 26, 1935
- 2020 visitors: 1,666,265 (#14 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 199,223.77 acres
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U.S. National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,639 miles
- Driving time: 34.4 hours
- Date founded: October 26, 1992
- 2020 visitors: 48,543 (#55 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 64,701.22 acres
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#49. Everglades National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,697 miles
- Driving time: 32.5 hours
- Date founded: May 30, 1934
- 2020 visitors: 702,319 (#25 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,508,938.57 acres
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NPS // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Biscayne National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,723 miles
- Driving time: 30.8 hours
- Date founded: June 28, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 402,770 (#36 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 172,971.11 acres

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#51. Acadia National Park (Maine)

- Distance: 1,906 miles
- Driving time: 34.6 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 2,669,034 (#8 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 49,076.63 acres
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Alan Wu // Wikimedia Commons

#52. Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 1,934 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 5,748 (#60 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,223,383.43 acres
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Sewtex // Wikimedia Commons

#53. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,168 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 16,655 (#57 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 8,323,146.48 acres
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National Park Service, Alaska Region // Wikimedia Commons

#54. Kenai Fjords National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,385 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 115,882 (#52 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 669,650.05 acres
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Denali National Park and Preserve // Wikimedia Commons

#55. Denali National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,484 miles
- Date founded: February 26, 1917
- 2020 visitors: 54,850 (#53 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 4,740,911.16 acres
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Ryjil Christianson // Wikimedia Commons

#56. Lake Clark National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,529 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 4,948 (#61 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 2,619,816.49 acres
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Katmai National Park and Preserve // Wikimedia Commons

#57. Katmai National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,550 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 51,511 (#54 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,674,529.33 acres
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National Park Service, Alaska Region // Wikimedia Commons

#58. Gates of the Arctic National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,669 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 2,872 (#63 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 7,523,897.45 acres
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#59. Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. Virgin Islands)

- Distance: 2,802 miles
- Date founded: August 2, 1956
- 2020 visitors: 167,540 (#46 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 15,052.53 acres
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LCGS Russ // Wikimedia Commons

#60. Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,814 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 11,185 (#58 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,750,716.16 acres
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#61. Haleakalā National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 3,280 miles
- Date founded: July 1, 1961
- 2020 visitors: 319,147 (#40 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 33,264.62 acres
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#62. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 3,282 miles
- Date founded: August 1, 1916
- 2020 visitors: 589,775 (#27 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 325,605.28 acres
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Tavita Togia, National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

#63. National Park of American Samoa (American Samoa)

- Distance: 5,613 miles
- Date founded: October 31, 1988
- 2020 visitors: 4,819 (#62 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 8,256.67 acres

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