Closest national parks to St. Louis

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

Closest national parks to St. Louis

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 St. Louis. National parks are ranked by closest straight line distance, measured from representative points in St. Louis, MO-IL 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.

You may also like: Highest-earning zip codes in St. Louis metro area

1 / 63
Paul Brady Photography // Shutterstock

#1. Gateway Arch National Park (Missouri)

- Distance: 11 miles
- Driving time: 0.3 hours
- Date founded: February 22, 2018[47]
- 2020 visitors: 486,021 (#31 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 192.83 acres
2 / 63
Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#2. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)

- Distance: 256 miles
- Driving time: 5.2 hours
- Date founded: July 1, 1941
- 2020 visitors: 290,392 (#41 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 54,011.91 acres
3 / 63
Delmas Lehman // Shutterstock

#3. Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)

- Distance: 266 miles
- Driving time: 5.0 hours
- Date founded: February 15, 2019
- 2020 visitors: 2,293,106 (#11 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 15,349.08 acres
4 / 63
Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#4. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

- Distance: 328 miles
- Driving time: 6.5 hours
- Date founded: March 4, 1921
- 2020 visitors: 1,348,215 (#16 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 5,554.15 acres
5 / 63
Aviator31 // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 431 miles
- Driving time: 8.3 hours
- Date founded: June 15, 1934
- 2020 visitors: 12,095,720 (#1 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 522,426.88 acres

You may also like: Metros sending the most people to St. Louis

6 / 63
Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

- Distance: 497 miles
- Driving time: 8.2 hours
- Date founded: October 11, 2000
- 2020 visitors: 2,755,628 (#7 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 32,571.88 acres
7 / 63
Steve Heap // Shutterstock

#7. New River Gorge National Park (West Virginia)

- Distance: 505 miles
- Driving time: 8.9 hours
- Date founded: December 27, 2020
- 2020 visitors: 1,054,374 (#19 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 7,021 acres
8 / 63
Jtmartin57 // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

- Distance: 634 miles
- Driving time: 12.2 hours
- Date founded: November 10, 2003
- 2020 visitors: 119,306 (#51 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 26,476.47 acres
9 / 63
Jon Bilous // Shutterstock

#9. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

- Distance: 649 miles
- Driving time: 12.4 hours
- Date founded: December 26, 1935
- 2020 visitors: 1,666,265 (#14 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 199,223.77 acres
10 / 63
MDuchek // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Isle Royale National Park (Michigan)

- Distance: 652 miles
- Driving time: 12.6 hours
- Date founded: April 3, 1940
- 2020 visitors: 6,493 (#59 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 571,790.30 acres

You may also like: Highest-rated seafood restaurants in St. Louis, according to Tripadvisor

11 / 63
BlueBarronPhoto // Shutterstock

#11. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

- Distance: 686 miles
- Driving time: 12.9 hours
- Date founded: April 8, 1975
- 2020 visitors: 263,091 (#44 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 218,222.35 acres
12 / 63
Matt Ragen // Shutterstock

#12. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 720 miles
- Driving time: 13.2 hours
- Date founded: November 10, 1978
- 2020 visitors: 916,932 (#21 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 242,755.94 acres
13 / 63
Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#13. Wind Cave National Park (South Dakota)

- Distance: 761 miles
- Driving time: 14.3 hours
- Date founded: January 9, 1903
- 2020 visitors: 448,405 (#33 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 33,970.84 acres
14 / 63
Anna Krivitskaya // Shutterstock

#14. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 820 miles
- Driving time: 13.3 hours
- Date founded: January 26, 1915
- 2020 visitors: 3,305,199 (#4 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 265,807.25 acres
15 / 63
Kris Wiktor // Shutterstock

#15. Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 827 miles
- Driving time: 14.5 hours
- Date founded: September 24, 2004
- 2020 visitors: 461,532 (#32 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 107,341.87 acres

You may also like: Highest-rated pizza restaurants in St. Louis

16 / 63
Laurens Hoddenbagh // Shutterstock

#16. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)

- Distance: 873 miles
- Driving time: 16.8 hours
- Date founded: November 10, 1978
- 2020 visitors: 551,303 (#28 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 70,446.89 acres
17 / 63
Doug Meek // Shutterstock

#17. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 913 miles
- Driving time: 15.8 hours
- Date founded: May 14, 1930
- 2020 visitors: 183,835 (#45 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 46,766.45 acres
18 / 63
SL-Photography // Shutterstock

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

- Distance: 938 miles
- Driving time: 17.1 hours
- Date founded: October 21, 1999
- 2020 visitors: 341,620 (#39 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 30,779.83 acres
19 / 63
ShuPhoto // Shutterstock

#19. Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 944 miles
- Driving time: 16.9 hours
- Date founded: October 15, 1966
- 2020 visitors: 151,256 (#49 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 86,367.10 acres
20 / 63
Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#20. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)

- Distance: 978 miles
- Driving time: 16.6 hours
- Date founded: December 20, 2019[111]
- 2020 visitors: 415,383 (#34 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 146,344.31 acres

You may also like: Cities with the most expensive homes in St. Louis metro area

21 / 63
Eric Foltz // Shutterstock

#21. Big Bend National Park (Texas)

- Distance: 986 miles
- Driving time: 19.0 hours
- Date founded: June 12, 1944
- 2020 visitors: 393,907 (#37 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 801,163.21 acres
22 / 63
Sopotnicki // Shutterstock

#22. Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado)

- Distance: 995 miles
- Driving time: 18.6 hours
- Date founded: June 29, 1906
- 2020 visitors: 287,477 (#42 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 52,485.17 acres
23 / 63
Manamana // Shutterstock

#23. Arches National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,037 miles
- Driving time: 17.5 hours
- Date founded: November 12, 1971
- 2020 visitors: 1,238,083 (#17 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 76,678.98 acres
24 / 63
Manamana // Shutterstock

#24. Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,061 miles
- Driving time: 24.7 hours
- Date founded: September 12, 1964
- 2020 visitors: 493,914 (#30 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 337,597.83 acres
25 / 63
U.S. National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Dry Tortugas National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,066 miles
- Driving time: 21.8 hours
- Date founded: October 26, 1992
- 2020 visitors: 48,543 (#55 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 64,701.22 acres

You may also like: Highest-paying jobs in St. Louis

26 / 63
Simon Dannhauer // Shutterstock

#26. Everglades National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,076 miles
- Driving time: 19.9 hours
- Date founded: May 30, 1934
- 2020 visitors: 702,319 (#25 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,508,938.57 acres
27 / 63
NPS // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Biscayne National Park (Florida)

- Distance: 1,082 miles
- Driving time: 18.7 hours
- Date founded: June 28, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 402,770 (#36 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 172,971.11 acres
28 / 63
Felix Lipov // Shutterstock

#28. Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,103 miles
- Driving time: 17.7 hours
- Date founded: December 9, 1962
- 2020 visitors: 384,483 (#38 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 221,390.21 acres
29 / 63
Lane V. Erickson // Shutterstock

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

- Distance: 1,115 miles
- Driving time: 20.4 hours
- Date founded: March 1, 1872
- 2020 visitors: 3,806,306 (#2 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 2,219,790.71 acres
30 / 63
Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#30. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)

- Distance: 1,116 miles
- Driving time: 19.3 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1929
- 2020 visitors: 3,289,638 (#5 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 310,044.36 acres

You may also like: Zip codes with the most expensive rent in St. Louis

31 / 63
Layne V. Naylor // Shutterstock

#31. Capitol Reef National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,127 miles
- Driving time: 19.1 hours
- Date founded: December 18, 1971
- 2020 visitors: 981,038 (#20 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 241,904.50 acres
32 / 63
ronnybas frimages // Shutterstock

#32. Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,189 miles
- Driving time: 21.2 hours
- Date founded: February 25, 1928
- 2020 visitors: 1,464,655 (#15 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 35,835.08 acres
33 / 63
Romiana Lee // Shutterstock

#33. Acadia National Park (Maine)

- Distance: 1,207 miles
- Driving time: 23.2 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 2,669,034 (#8 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 49,076.63 acres
34 / 63
Josemaria Toscano // Shutterstock

#34. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,210 miles
- Driving time: 21.3 hours
- Date founded: February 26, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 2,897,098 (#6 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,201,647.03 acres
35 / 63
kojihirano // Shutterstock

#35. Saguaro National Park (Arizona)

- Distance: 1,218 miles
- Driving time: 21.9 hours
- Date founded: October 14, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 762,226 (#24 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 92,867.42 acres

You may also like: Most expensive homes for sale in St. Louis

36 / 63
Galyna Andrushko // Shutterstock

#36. Zion National Park (Utah)

- Distance: 1,240 miles
- Driving time: 21.7 hours
- Date founded: November 19, 1919
- 2020 visitors: 3,591,254 (#3 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 147,242.66 acres
37 / 63
Arlene Waller // Shutterstock

#37. Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

- Distance: 1,288 miles
- Driving time: 21.7 hours
- Date founded: October 27, 1986
- 2020 visitors: 120,248 (#50 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 77,180.00 acres
38 / 63
Pung // Shutterstock

#38. Glacier National Park (Montana)

- Distance: 1,364 miles
- Date founded: May 11, 1910
- 2020 visitors: 1,698,864 (#13 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,013,125.99 acres
39 / 63
Bryan Brazil // Shutterstock

#39. Death Valley National Park (California, Nevada)

- Distance: 1,460 miles
- Driving time: 24.9 hours
- Date founded: October 31, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 820,023 (#22 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,408,406.73 acres
40 / 63
Dennis Silvas // Shutterstock

#40. Joshua Tree National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,462 miles
- Driving time: 25.1 hours
- Date founded: October 31, 1994
- 2020 visitors: 2,399,542 (#10 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 795,155.85 acres

You may also like: Highest-rated Chinese restaurants in St. Louis, according to Tripadvisor

41 / 63
Patrick Poendl // Shutterstock

#41. Kings Canyon National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,544 miles
- Driving time: 32.7 hours
- Date founded: March 4, 1940
- 2020 visitors: 415,077 (#35 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 461,901.20 acres
42 / 63
Virrage Images // Shutterstock

#42. Sequoia National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,557 miles
- Driving time: 31.5 hours
- Date founded: September 25, 1890
- 2020 visitors: 796,086 (#23 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 404,062.63 acres
43 / 63
Stephen Moehle // Shutterstock

#43. Yosemite National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,579 miles
- Driving time: 31.5 hours
- Date founded: October 1, 1890
- 2020 visitors: 2,268,313 (#12 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 761,747.50 acres
44 / 63
Ethan Daniels // Shutterstock

#44. Channel Islands National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,646 miles
- Date founded: March 5, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 167,290 (#47 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 249,561.00 acres
45 / 63
Zack Frank // Shutterstock

#45. Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,659 miles
- Driving time: 29.4 hours
- Date founded: August 9, 1916
- 2020 visitors: 542,274 (#29 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 106,589.02 acres

You may also like: Highest-rated restaurants in St. Louis, according to Tripadvisor

46 / 63
National Park Service/Deby Dixon // Wikimedia Commons

#46. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,676 miles
- Driving time: 32.7 hours
- Date founded: October 2, 1968
- 2020 visitors: 30,885 (#56 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 504,780.94 acres
47 / 63
Diane Fetzner // Shutterstock

#47. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,678 miles
- Driving time: 30.0 hours
- Date founded: March 2, 1899
- 2020 visitors: 1,160,754 (#18 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 236,381.64 acres
48 / 63
Hank Shiffman // Shutterstock

#48. Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

- Distance: 1,679 miles
- Driving time: 29.9 hours
- Date founded: May 22, 1902
- 2020 visitors: 670,500 (#26 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 183,224.05 acres
49 / 63
Yhelfman // Shutterstock

#49. Pinnacles National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,690 miles
- Driving time: 30.1 hours
- Date founded: January 10, 2013
- 2020 visitors: 165,740 (#48 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 26,685.73 acres
50 / 63
f11photo // Shutterstock

#50. Olympic National Park (Washington)

- Distance: 1,771 miles
- Driving time: 33.1 hours
- Date founded: June 29, 1938
- 2020 visitors: 2,499,177 (#9 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 922,649.41 acres

You may also like: Where people in St. Louis are moving to most

51 / 63
Bob Pool // Shutterstock

#51. Redwood National Park (California)

- Distance: 1,783 miles
- Driving time: 33.4 hours
- Date founded: October 2, 1968
- 2020 visitors: 265,177 (#43 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 138,999.37 acres
52 / 63
Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

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

- Distance: 2,084 miles
- Date founded: August 2, 1956
- 2020 visitors: 167,540 (#46 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 15,052.53 acres
53 / 63
Alan Wu // Wikimedia Commons

#53. Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,463 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 5,748 (#60 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,223,383.43 acres
54 / 63
Sewtex // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 2,670 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 16,655 (#57 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 8,323,146.48 acres
55 / 63
National Park Service, Alaska Region // Wikimedia Commons

#55. Kenai Fjords National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,921 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 115,882 (#52 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 669,650.05 acres
56 / 63
Denali National Park and Preserve // Wikimedia Commons

#56. Denali National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 2,965 miles
- Date founded: February 26, 1917
- 2020 visitors: 54,850 (#53 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 4,740,911.16 acres
57 / 63
Ryjil Christianson // Wikimedia Commons

#57. Lake Clark National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,052 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 4,948 (#61 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 2,619,816.49 acres
58 / 63
National Park Service, Alaska Region // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 3,080 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 2,872 (#63 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 7,523,897.45 acres
59 / 63
Katmai National Park and Preserve // Wikimedia Commons

#59. Katmai National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,111 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 51,511 (#54 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 3,674,529.33 acres
60 / 63
LCGS Russ // Wikimedia Commons

#60. Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)

- Distance: 3,236 miles
- Date founded: December 2, 1980
- 2020 visitors: 11,185 (#58 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 1,750,716.16 acres
61 / 63
jo Crebbin // Shutterstock

#61. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 4,058 miles
- Date founded: August 1, 1916
- 2020 visitors: 589,775 (#27 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 325,605.28 acres
62 / 63
MH Anderson Photography // Shutterstock

#62. Haleakalā National Park (Hawaii)

- Distance: 4,059 miles
- Date founded: July 1, 1961
- 2020 visitors: 319,147 (#40 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 33,264.62 acres
63 / 63
Tavita Togia, National Park Service // Wikimedia Commons

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

- Distance: 6,322 miles
- Date founded: October 31, 1988
- 2020 visitors: 4,819 (#62 highest among all national parks)
- Park area: 8,256.67 acres

Trending Now