Closest national parks to Kansas City

Written by:
July 13, 2022
Zack Frank // Shutterstock

Closest national parks to Kansas 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 Kansas City. National parks are ranked by closest straight line distance, measured from representative points in Kansas City, MO-KS 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: 231 miles
- Driving time: 3.7 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: 315 miles
- Driving time: 6.7 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: 433 miles
- Driving time: 8.3 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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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#4. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

- Distance: 471 miles
- Driving time: 8.6 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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Matt Ragen // Shutterstock

#5. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 534 miles
- Driving time: 10.0 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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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#6. Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 569 miles
- Driving time: 11.0 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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#7. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 602 miles
- Driving time: 10.0 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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Kris Wiktor // Shutterstock

#8. Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 607 miles
- Driving time: 11.2 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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Aviator31 // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 641 miles
- Driving time: 11.9 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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#10. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

- Distance: 665 miles
- Driving time: 11.1 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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MDuchek // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

- Distance: 698 miles
- Driving time: 14.0 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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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#12. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

- Distance: 701 miles
- Driving time: 11.7 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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SL-Photography // Shutterstock

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

- Distance: 717 miles
- Driving time: 13.7 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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Laurens Hoddenbagh // Shutterstock

#14. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

- Distance: 718 miles
- Driving time: 13.8 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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#15. New River Gorge National Park (West Virginia)

- Distance: 726 miles
- Driving time: 12.4 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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#16. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 730 miles
- Driving time: 13.6 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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#17. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 761 miles
- Driving time: 14.7 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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#18. Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 775 miles
- Driving time: 15.3 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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Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#19. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 782 miles
- Driving time: 13.8 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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#20. Arches National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 816 miles
- Driving time: 14.1 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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#21. Big Bend National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 836 miles
- Driving time: 16.1 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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#22. Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 839 miles
- Driving time: 21.3 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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Jtmartin57 // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

- Distance: 840 miles
- Driving time: 15.9 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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#24. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

- Distance: 869 miles
- Driving time: 15.9 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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#25. Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 888 miles
- Driving time: 14.9 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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Layne V. Naylor // Shutterstock

#26. Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 906 miles
- Driving time: 15.7 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: 911 miles
- Driving time: 16.1 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: 915 miles
- Driving time: 17.2 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: 968 miles
- Driving time: 17.8 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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#30. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 991 miles
- Driving time: 18.5 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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#31. Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,013 miles
- Driving time: 18.7 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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#32. Zion National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,018 miles
- Driving time: 18.3 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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#33. Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

- Distance: 1,067 miles
- Driving time: 18.3 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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#34. Glacier National Park (Montana)

- Distance: 1,185 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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U.S. National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,196 miles
- Driving time: 25.2 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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#36. Everglades National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,225 miles
- Driving time: 23.3 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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#37. Death Valley National Park (California, Nevada)

- Distance: 1,239 miles
- Driving time: 21.5 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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NPS // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Biscayne National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,239 miles
- Driving time: 22.3 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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Dennis Silvas // Shutterstock

#39. Joshua Tree National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,245 miles
- Driving time: 22.2 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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#40. Kings Canyon National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,322 miles
- Driving time: 29.4 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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#41. Sequoia National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,336 miles
- Driving time: 28.2 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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#42. Yosemite National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,358 miles
- Driving time: 28.2 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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#43. Acadia National Park (Maine)

- Distance: 1,402 miles
- Driving time: 26.3 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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#44. Channel Islands National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,427 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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Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#45. Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,441 miles
- Driving time: 26.0 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: 1,466 miles
- Driving time: 27.3 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: 1,468 miles
- Driving time: 26.8 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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#48. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,480 miles
- Driving time: 26.8 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

#49. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,487 miles
- Driving time: 29.5 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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Bob Pool // Shutterstock

#50. Redwood National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,567 miles
- Driving time: 30.2 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: 1,577 miles
- Driving time: 29.9 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: 2,278 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: 2,310 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: 2,525 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: 2,769 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: 2,828 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: 2,903 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

#58. Katmai National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,953 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

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

- Distance: 2,963 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

#60. Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,116 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: 3,837 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: 3,837 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: 6,116 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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