Closest national parks to Jefferson City

Written by:
April 18, 2022
Zack Frank // Shutterstock

Closest national parks to Jefferson City

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 Jefferson City. National parks are ranked by closest straight line distance, measured from representative points in Jefferson City, MO 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. Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)

- Distance: 103 miles
- Driving time: 2.0 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

#2. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

- Distance: 290 miles
- Driving time: 6.9 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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Delmas Lehman // Shutterstock

#3. Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)

- Distance: 338 miles
- Driving time: 6.6 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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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#4. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

- Distance: 342 miles
- Driving time: 7.0 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

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

- Distance: 514 miles
- Driving time: 10.1 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

#6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

- Distance: 587 miles
- Driving time: 10.0 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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#7. New River Gorge National Park (West Virginia)

- Distance: 599 miles
- Driving time: 10.7 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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#8. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 647 miles
- Driving time: 12.1 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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MDuchek // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

- Distance: 677 miles
- Driving time: 14.3 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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#10. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

- Distance: 682 miles
- Driving time: 12.5 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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#11. Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 684 miles
- Driving time: 13.2 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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Jtmartin57 // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

- Distance: 714 miles
- Driving time: 14.0 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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Anna Krivitskaya // Shutterstock

#13. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 730 miles
- Driving time: 12.2 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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Kris Wiktor // Shutterstock

#14. Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 733 miles
- Driving time: 13.5 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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#15. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

- Distance: 743 miles
- Driving time: 14.2 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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Laurens Hoddenbagh // Shutterstock

#16. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

- Distance: 813 miles
- Driving time: 16.0 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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#17. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 826 miles
- Driving time: 14.8 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. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 845 miles
- Driving time: 16.0 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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#19. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 857 miles
- Driving time: 15.9 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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Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#20. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 887 miles
- Driving time: 15.6 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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#21. Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 901 miles
- Driving time: 17.6 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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#22. Big Bend National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 909 miles
- Driving time: 18.1 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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#23. Arches National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 944 miles
- Driving time: 16.5 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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#24. Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 967 miles
- Driving time: 23.6 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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#25. Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,009 miles
- Driving time: 16.8 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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Layne V. Naylor // Shutterstock

#26. Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,034 miles
- Driving time: 18.0 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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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#27. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

- Distance: 1,034 miles
- Driving time: 18.3 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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#28. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho)

- Distance: 1,035 miles
- Driving time: 19.3 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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#29. Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,095 miles
- Driving time: 20.1 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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U.S. National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,106 miles
- Driving time: 23.4 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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Josemaria Toscano // Shutterstock

#31. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,116 miles
- Driving time: 20.3 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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#32. Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,126 miles
- Driving time: 20.7 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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#33. Everglades National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,126 miles
- Driving time: 21.5 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

#34. Biscayne National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,136 miles
- Driving time: 20.5 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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Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#35. Zion National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,146 miles
- Driving time: 20.6 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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#36. Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

- Distance: 1,196 miles
- Driving time: 20.6 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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#37. Acadia National Park (Maine)

- Distance: 1,295 miles
- Driving time: 24.6 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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#38. Glacier National Park (Montana)

- Distance: 1,295 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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#39. Death Valley National Park (California, Nevada)

- Distance: 1,366 miles
- Driving time: 23.9 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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#40. Joshua Tree National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,367 miles
- Driving time: 24.1 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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#41. Kings Canyon National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,450 miles
- Driving time: 31.7 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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#42. Sequoia National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,463 miles
- Driving time: 30.5 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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#43. Yosemite National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,487 miles
- Driving time: 30.5 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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#44. Channel Islands National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,552 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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#45. Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,569 miles
- Driving time: 28.3 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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#46. Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

- Distance: 1,593 miles
- Driving time: 28.9 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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#47. Pinnacles National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,596 miles
- Driving time: 29.1 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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Diane Fetzner // Shutterstock

#48. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,600 miles
- Driving time: 28.9 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

#49. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,603 miles
- Driving time: 31.6 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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#50. Redwood National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,694 miles
- Driving time: 32.3 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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f11photo // Shutterstock

#51. Olympic National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,695 miles
- Driving time: 32.0 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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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

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

- Distance: 2,159 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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Alan Wu // Wikimedia Commons

#53. Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,407 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

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

- Distance: 2,618 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

#55. Kenai Fjords National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,866 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

#56. Denali National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,917 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

#57. Lake Clark National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,998 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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National Park Service, Alaska Region // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 3,041 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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Katmai National Park and Preserve // Wikimedia Commons

#59. Katmai National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,054 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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LCGS Russ // Wikimedia Commons

#60. Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,196 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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jo Crebbin // Shutterstock

#61. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 3,963 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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MH Anderson Photography // Shutterstock

#62. Haleakalā National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 3,965 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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Tavita Togia, National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 6,230 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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