Whenever someone talks about visiting national parks around the U.S., most of the time they’re referring to some of the most popular parks, such as Arches National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Zion National Park. It’s easy to understand why so many people want to explore these iconic U.S. destinations—their scenery, history, and wilderness environments are breathtaking. Although, there are many other national parks around the country that are just as incredible and offer a once-in-a-lifetime, unique experience. Many of these national parks exist in the Midwest, and you may have never even heard of them, which is why we wrote this blog post of five national parks in the Midwest you can visit in 2024.
5. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH
Resting between the two cities of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a gem that’s hidden in plain sight. When you think of these two cities, dense forests, agricultural farmlands, and wonderful waterfalls probably don’t come to mind, but this 33,000-acre national park offers these beautiful sights and more. It’s a place where prehistoric Native Americans settled, flora and fauna are protected, and history holds its place, despite the growing cities right outside of the park. Take the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to noteworthy sights, such as the Brandywine Falls, the popular 2.3-mile Ledges Trail, or to paddle the Cuyahoga River. In addition, walkers and bikers will enjoy exploring the remains of the Ohio & Erie Canal.
Where to stay
- Stow Silver Springs Campground – hookups available
- Streetsboro/Cleveland KOA – hookups available
- Woodside Lake Park – hookups available
- Hidden Valley Campground – hookups available
- Roundup Lake Campground – hookups available
- The Lake Campground – hookups available
4. Hot Springs National Park, AR
When you think of thermal springs, Yellowstone National Park in Montana may come to mind, but there is in fact another place in the country that not only offers 47 thermal springs, it’s also the oldest national park in the U.S., and it’s called Hot Springs National Park—located in the town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. With over 30 miles of hiking trails, views of the majestic Ouachita Mountains, and tranquil thermal springs, this free-to-enter national park is the perfect place for mindfulness and rejuvenation. While here, explore the 2.6-mile Goat Rock Trail, Bathhouse Row to view architecture from the Gilded Age, explore the beautiful Fordyce Bathhouse, or drink fresh spring water.
Where to Stay
- Gulpha Gorge Campground – hookups available
- Hot Springs National Park KOA Holiday – hookups available
- Catherine’s Landing, an RVC Outdoor Destination – hookups available
- J & J RV Park & Storage – hookups available
3. Isle Royale National Park, MI
Do you ever daydream of visiting a remote island, where there are past shipwrecks, archipelago spread across the water, and not a car in sight? That’s exactly how it feels at Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. As the least visited national park in the U.S., this isolated island is truly a hidden treasure. Located on Lake Superior and only accessible by seaplane or boat, this remote wilderness includes 450 islands, 165 miles of hiking trails, clear waters, ancient lighthouses, and one of the darkest night skies on earth. It’s a place where divers have found treasure, fishers fall in love with catching over 40 different fish species, and hikers immerse themselves on trails like the Scoville Point via Stoll Trail. What’s more, you may even see the American Beaver, Gray Wolf, Moose, and other wildlife while exploring this surreal national park.
Where to Stay
Since Isle Royale National Park is only accessible by ferry or seaplane, there are no RV sites in the park. Here are a few RV sites outside of the park that are near boat access points to get to the islands.
- Hancock Campground – hookups available
- Happy Land RV Park – hookups available
- City of Houghton RV Park – hookups available
2. Voyageurs National Park, MN
Voyageurs National Park, named after early French-Canadian fur traders, is a place where a boreal and northern hardwood forest meet. While here, visitors can explore rock ridges, wetlands, dense forests, and several lakes. Canoe and kayak on Kabetogama Lake, explore over 27 miles of hiking trails, such as Blind Ash Bay Trail, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot wildlife, such as bald eagles and black bears. In addition, this park offers opportunities to snowshoe, snowmobile, and ice fish in the winter.
Where to Stay
- Woodenfrog State Forest Campground – no hookups available
- Voyageurs National Park RV Camping – hookups available
1. Gateway Arch National Park, MO
While “national park” may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the city of St. Louis, there is in fact a 91-acre park in this downtown area, and it’s known as Gateway Arch National Park. As the smallest national park in the U.S., it’s easy to explore the area’s five miles of walk and bike paths, diverse plant life, and the riverview pathways for pretty waterfront views of the Mississippi River. The park got its name during the country’s westward expansion in the 19th century when it became the “Gateway to the west.”
Where to Stay
- Cahokia RV Parque – hookups available
- St. Louis West KOA – hookups available
- Covered Bridge RV Park – hookups available
National parks in the Midwest are special for many reasons, maybe it’s because they’re remote, quieter than other national parks, and that they hold history. Whether you prefer to be in the middle of nowhere, explore Native American stories, or want to be near a city, these national parks in the Midwest will surely have something to offer you. For more bucket-list-worthy destinations around the U.S., we wrote up a list of other places worth checking out in 2024 as well.
See you on the road!