Closest national parks to Fort Collins

Written by:
July 13, 2022
Matt Ragen // Shutterstock

Closest national parks to Fort Collins

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 Fort Collins. National parks are ranked by closest straight line distance, measured from representative points in Fort Collins, 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: 18 miles
- Driving time: 2.0 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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SL-Photography // Shutterstock

#2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 187 miles
- Driving time: 7.0 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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Kris Wiktor // Shutterstock

#3. Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 202 miles
- Driving time: 5.8 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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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#4. Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 226 miles
- Driving time: 5.5 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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Manamana // Shutterstock

#5. Arches National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 257 miles
- Driving time: 7.7 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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Matt Ragen // Shutterstock

#6. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 263 miles
- Driving time: 6.8 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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Sopotnicki // Shutterstock

#7. Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 289 miles
- Driving time: 9.2 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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Manamana // Shutterstock

#8. Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 292 miles
- Driving time: 13.4 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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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#9. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

- Distance: 345 miles
- Driving time: 7.7 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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Layne V. Naylor // Shutterstock

#10. Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 348 miles
- Driving time: 9.2 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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Lane V. Erickson // Shutterstock

#11. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

- Distance: 373 miles
- Driving time: 9.0 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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ronnybas frimages // Shutterstock

#12. Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 418 miles
- Driving time: 11.2 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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Laurens Hoddenbagh // Shutterstock

#13. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

- Distance: 447 miles
- Driving time: 10.1 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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Felix Lipov // Shutterstock

#14. Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 451 miles
- Driving time: 11.2 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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Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#15. Zion National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 468 miles
- Driving time: 11.7 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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#16. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 481 miles
- Driving time: 13.1 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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#17. Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

- Distance: 483 miles
- Driving time: 11.5 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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Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#18. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 545 miles
- Driving time: 11.0 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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#19. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 588 miles
- Driving time: 11.7 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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#20. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 603 miles
- Driving time: 12.8 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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#21. Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 643 miles
- Driving time: 15.0 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: 685 miles
- Driving time: 15.0 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. Glacier National Park (Montana)

- Distance: 700 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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#24. Joshua Tree National Park (California)

- Distance: 743 miles
- Driving time: 17.2 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. Kings Canyon National Park (California)

- Distance: 753 miles
- Driving time: 22.9 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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#26. Sequoia National Park (California)

- Distance: 771 miles
- Driving time: 21.6 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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#27. Yosemite National Park (California)

- Distance: 776 miles
- Driving time: 21.2 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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#28. Big Bend National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 797 miles
- Driving time: 17.0 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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#29. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

- Distance: 802 miles
- Driving time: 15.9 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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#30. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

- Distance: 823 miles
- Driving time: 18.5 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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#31. Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)

- Distance: 827 miles
- Driving time: 13.9 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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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#32. Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)

- Distance: 842 miles
- Driving time: 18.2 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. Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

- Distance: 871 miles
- Driving time: 18.6 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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#34. Channel Islands National Park (California)

- Distance: 892 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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#35. Pinnacles National Park (California)

- Distance: 895 miles
- Driving time: 20.3 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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#36. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 917 miles
- Driving time: 18.8 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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National Park Service/Deby Dixon // Wikimedia Commons

#37. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 950 miles
- Driving time: 21.6 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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#38. Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)

- Distance: 962 miles
- Driving time: 16.3 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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#39. Redwood National Park (California)

- Distance: 967 miles
- Driving time: 23.1 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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MDuchek // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

- Distance: 980 miles
- Driving time: 21.3 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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#41. Olympic National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,022 miles
- Driving time: 22.2 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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#42. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

- Distance: 1,070 miles
- Driving time: 18.8 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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Aviator31 // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina, Tennessee)

- Distance: 1,240 miles
- Driving time: 22.9 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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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#44. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

- Distance: 1,249 miles
- Driving time: 21.1 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: 1,315 miles
- Driving time: 22.6 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: 1,437 miles
- Driving time: 27.2 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: 1,450 miles
- Driving time: 26.1 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: 1,711 miles
- Driving time: 36.2 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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Simon Dannhauer // Shutterstock

#49. Everglades National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,765 miles
- Driving time: 33.6 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: 1,789 miles
- Driving time: 32.6 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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Alan Wu // Wikimedia Commons

#51. Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 1,847 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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Romiana Lee // Shutterstock

#52. Acadia National Park (Maine)

- Distance: 1,904 miles
- Driving time: 35.5 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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Sewtex // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 2,081 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: 2,300 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: 2,397 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: 2,443 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: 2,467 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: 2,580 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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LCGS Russ // Wikimedia Commons

#59. Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,725 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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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#60. Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. Virgin Islands)

- Distance: 2,860 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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MH Anderson Photography // Shutterstock

#61. Haleakalā National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 3,261 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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jo Crebbin // Shutterstock

#62. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 3,267 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: 5,623 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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