8 National Parks to Visit With Your Sweetie

A couple holding hands at sunset

Brickrena / Shutterstock

There are good reasons why national parks aren’t the first thing that come to mind when you want a romantic getaway. Packed tour buses, geology lessons, campsite bathrooms, and the very notion of “roughing it” just don't set the right mood. It's a shame because national parks are not short on romantic appeal, with sunsets, stargazing, waterfalls, wildflower-filled meadows, remote beaches, crisp alpine air, and a television-free experience that’s invigorating...even intimacy-boosting.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve rounded up romantic hot spots across eight North American national parks (well, one's really a national recreation area). They don’t all involve camping in the mountains and eating your honeymoon dinner out of a tin can; tropical beaches, fine dining, and historic lodges come into play, too.

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Trunk Bay

Photo: Steve Heap/Shutterstock

Location: Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Ideal audio accompaniment: “The Tide is High” by Blondie

But of course we’d include one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world — the most beautiful according to the folks over at the National Geographic Society — in a roundup of romantic national park hot spots. After an exhausting day enjoying one of the more adventure-based pursuits at Virgin Islands National Park — hiking, birding, snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing and the list goes on — we can’t imagine a better place to unwind than the pristine white sand expanses of Trunk Bay with a tropical drink in one hand (yes, the snack bar serves libations) and the hand of your paramour in the other. And although the beach may be congested with PDA-happy honeymooners, it would be criminal to miss a famed Trunk Bay sunset.

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Fort Jefferson

Photo: Varina and Jay Patel/Shutterstock

Location: Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Ideal audio accompaniment: “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz (our apologies to Jimmy Buffett)

While the Florida Keys are rife with romantic possibilities, lovebirds pining to decamp from the tacky, tourist-clogged streets of “Margaritaville” should fly (or set sail) nearly 70 miles west to Dry Tortugas National Park, a string of seven uninhabited islets where remoteness (it’s one of the hardest to access of the national parks) and pristine tropical beauty (the coral reefs provide for primo snorkeling) are the main draws. While some of the keys within Dry Tortugas National Park are closed to the public or open only seasonally, Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century coastal fort located on Garden Key, is open year-round. Hot-blooded history buffs will no doubt find amorous appeal in the massive masonry structure, as it’s a fascinating place to explore the past while getting to better know your special travel companion.

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Moraine Lake

Photo: Kendall Rittenour/Shutterstock

Location: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Ideal audio accompaniment: “Utopia” by Goldfrapp

Located high in the Canadian Rockies within Banff National Park’s Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake is a fine instance of Mother Nature’s handiwork that’s simply too stunning for words. Naturally, this makes it one of the more popular romantic escapes in a national park chock-full of romantic escapes. But seriously, we’d love to see stats on how many (sweaty/out-of-breath) marriage proposals have occurred on the glacier-fed lake’s walking and hiking trails, how many anniversary kisses have been shared while gliding across the lake in a canoe and, last but not least, how many relationships have been consummated in the gorgeous Moraine Lake Lodge (now with Wi-Fi).

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Old Faithful

Photo: Peter Schleipfer/Shutterstock

Location: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Ideal audio accompaniment: “Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band

Although a cone geyser that dramatically ejects thousands of gallons of boiling water every 91 minutes may be a touch suggestive for newly acquainted lovebirds, there’s no denying the majesty — and the amorous appeal — of Yellowstone’s most famed geothermal feature. Keep in mind that the jam-packed viewing benches surrounding Old Faithful don’t lend themselves to any sort of serious canoodling, so visitors who are left feeling a bit frisky by the performance can always decamp to a private room at the nearby historic Old Faithful Inn.

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Bryce Point

Photo: Katrina Leigh/Shutterstock

Location: Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Ideal audio accompaniment: “Like a Star” by Corinne Bailey Rae

Looking to work your romantic mojo amongst the hoodoos? Then get thee to Bryce Canyon National Park where the geology is otherworldly, the vistas are nothing less than sweeping and the untarnished night sky acts as a magnet for seasoned astrologers and love-struck stargazers alike. Boasting one of the darkest night skies in all of North America due in part to a high elevation, arid environment and an absence of light pollution, Bryce Canyon offers a range of astronomy and night sky programs including a popular annual Astronomy Festival hosted by the park’s dedicated staff of “Dark Rangers.” For unaccompanied adults on the prowl for a telescope-toting hottie, there probably isn’t a more appropriate place on Earth to try out that tired old pickup line, “So, what’s your sign?”

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Lovers' Lane

Photo: yhelfman/Shutterstock

Location: Presidio of San Francisco

Ideal audio accompaniment: “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding

We needn’t really go into detail about what a romantic town San Francisco is. However, we should point out that the Presidio, a former military base-turned-park that’s now a unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (which falls under the umbrella of the National Park Service), contains a very special place named in honor of those with sweet lovin’ on the brain. At .6 miles, Lovers' Lane is the oldest footpath within the Presidio and got its name from the fact that, once upon a time, it was the most direct route for enlisted soldiers to take out of the base and into the city proper where they were free to embark on dalliances with civilians (Lovers' Lane has a better ring to it than “Early Morning Walk of Shame Path”) and visit their families. History aside, it’s still a mighty enchanting path — great not only for leisurely, lovey-dovey strolls but for jogging, too — that passes through a dense eucalyptus grove, across a historic brick footbridge and past some beautiful homes.

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Yavapai Point

Photo: Mike Buchheit/Shutterstock

Location: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Ideal audio accompaniment: “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles

Unless you consider strapping on a helmet and careening down the Colorado River in a blow-up raft to be exceedingly amatory, taking in the sunset with that special someone — and with hundreds of camera-wielding strangers — is undoubtedly the most romantic activity to be had at Grand Canyon National Park. Everyone and their brother has an opinion on exactly where is the best place in the park to catch the sun dip below the horizon; some would argue there isn’t a single bad one as each location offers a completely different experience. Hopi and Pima Points are often named as top contenders but we’re partial to the South Rim’s Yavapai Point which, as luck would have it, is super-close to one of America’s most storied romantic escapes, the El Tovar Hotel.

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Lake Crescent

Photo: Anna-Mari West/Shutterstock

Location: Olympic National Park, Washington

Ideal audio accompaniment: “My Love” by Sia

Your and (your teenage sister’s) favorite vampiric romance/fantasy series has generated somewhat of a mini-tourism boom in the “Twilight Zone,” aka the tiny logging outpost of Forks, Washington, that is the fictional home of Bella, Edward and the gang. This, of course, has also brought more visitors into the massive (nearly a million acres) and overwhelming (Temperate rainforests! Rugged coasts! Giant mountains!) Olympic National Park. So where then, would a teenage girl and her bloodsucking manfriend escape to for a romantic rendezvous (heavy petting sans the necking if we’re going by the first two books/films) within this oh-so conveniently located national park? Lake Crescent is a pretty good bet. Not only is the lake itself a mind-blowing beauty, but the Roosevelt Fireplace Cottages at the Lake Crescent Lodge feature rustic, turn-of-the-century trappings that a 104-year-old vampire would surely appreciate.