10 of the Most Romantic National Parks

A couple in a red canoe paddle across a lake with the lower slopes of a mountain in the background
Encompassing 2,564 square miles of mountains, lakes, and forests, Alberta's Banff National Park is a mecca for travelers and sightseers.

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For travelers and nature lovers, national parks often top the list of vacation destinations. That holds true not only for families and solo adventurers but for couples, as well. After all, the natural world can be romantic—think fiery sunsets, secluded beaches, and that perfect campsite. Some national parks are vast expanses of wilderness, home to jagged mountain ranges and miles of hiking trails to explore. Others preserve unique geological formations or historical landmarks. Though some national parks offer little in the way of accommodation besides tent pads, you don't always have to rough it. Many parks feature a variety of lodging options, including rustic cabins and historic lodges.

Here are 10 national parks to consider for your next romantic getaway. 

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Virgin Islands National Park

A white sand beach framed by brilliant blue ocean water and forests

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Virgin Islands National Park is best known for its pristine white sand beaches, but that's not all the park has to offer. In total, the park encompasses about two-thirds of the island of St. John. Historical attractions range from 18th-century sugar plantations to petroglyphs that reveal the ancient life of the indigenous Taino people. For those looking for seclusion, rental boats can ferry visitors to quiet coves and hidden beaches. Adventurous couples can explore world-class coral reef diving and snorkeling at Trunk Bay or Hawksnest Beach. 

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Banff National Park

A turquoise blue lake surrounded by jagged mountain peaks

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High in the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is famed for its turquoise lakes and mountain scenery. Adventure seekers will find no shortage of things to do at this park in Alberta. The park offers more than 1,000 miles of maintained trails, open to hikers, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers. Those looking for a more relaxing stay can visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs or wander through the park's mountain village. Moraine and Louise Lakes, meanwhile, are among the most popular attractions in the park. These glacial lakes are shockingly blue and ringed by mountains. From Louise Lake, a 3.3-mile hike on the Plains of the Six Glaciers trail leads to glacier views and a Swiss-style tea house.

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Dry Tortugas National Park

An overhead shot of a hexagonal building on a spit of land extending into the ocean

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The Florida Keys may seem like the obvious option for couples seeking an island getaway, but Dry Tortugas National Park can offer something that the Keys lack—seclusion. The park is 100 square miles in size but consists of only seven small islands surrounded by open water. Accessible only by boat or plane, Dry Tortugas is one of the least-visited national parks in the United States. History buffs will enjoy Fort Jefferson, a 19th-century naval outpost. A primitive campsite near the fort—the only lodging option in the park—offers overnight visitors a place to catch the sunset and stargaze. 

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Yellowstone National Park

Colorful rock ledges at a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park

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Yellowstone National Park is the oldest national park in the United States and remains one of the most popular. The park sits above the Yellowstone caldera in northwest Wyoming. The park's volcanic history is responsible for the unique hydrothermal and geologic features that draw millions of visitors every year. More than 500 geysers dot Yellowstone's landscape. One, nicknamed Old Faithful, is famous for the regularity of its eruptions. 

One surefire way to escape the crowds at Yellowstone is to travel on two wheels. The park's spring and fall bicycling program permits cyclists to ride on park roads while they are closed to motorized traffic, on either end of the busy summer season.

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Bryce Canyon National Park

Rock towers and cliffs in the Utah desert illuminated by a sunset

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Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park is a desert landscape of stunning geological formations and sweeping vistas. The park is best known for its hoodoos, tall sandstone towers that dominate the landscape. Hiking trails offer viewpoints of the hoodoos, arches, and other geological marvels. 

Bryce Canyon is also known for its dark skies and stargazing opportunities, thanks to its remote location far from light pollution. The park offers a range of astronomy and night sky programs, including an annual Astronomy Festival hosted by a staff of "dark rangers."

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Grand Canyon National Park

Trees line the rim of the Grand Canyon

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Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park is home to one of the most scenic stretches of the Colorado River, where the river canyon reaches more than a mile deep and up to 18 miles wide. Witnessing the immensity of the canyon from a viewpoint along the rim is an experience in itself. There are, however, steep hiking trails that lead into the canyon itself, eventually reaching the river. 

While the Grand Canyon is one of the busiest national parks in the country, there are ways to escape the crowds. Most visitors, for example, never visit the canyon's North Rim. Though the road to the North Rim is long and winding, it is also scenic and lined with pine forests. The vistas on the North Rim, like Roosevelt Point, are every bit as spectacular as the busier South Rim.

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Olympic National Park

Two people stand on a beach at sunset in front of a tent

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Olympic National Park encompasses over a million acres of old-growth forest, lush mountain ranges, and rugged coastline in northwestern Washington. For adventurous couples, the park is known for unique coastal hiking and backpacking trips with oceanside campsites. The rocky coastline of the Olympic Peninsula is also an excellent place to explore tide pools. Further inland, rustic accommodations like the cabins at Lake Crescent Lodge offer more luxuries to visitors. 

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Acadia National Park

Two kayaks on a sandy beach in front of a lake, with forested hills in the background

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If an early morning hike to catch the first sunrise in the United States sounds like a romantic pursuit, head to Maine's Acadia National Park. Every year from October to March, Cadillac Mountain is the first point in the country to be illuminated by the dawn light (due to the Earth's rotation, Mars Hill claims the title in the summer months). 

The park has plenty to offer, even if a predawn start isn't appealing. More than 45 miles of historic carriage roads are open to bicycles, and hiking trails traverse both the inland forests and the coastlines. On the water, commercial outfits offer whale watching tours and nature cruises. 

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North Cascades National Park

A hiker and tent are illuminated by a headlamp at dusk in an alpine landscape

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If it's solitude you're after, it's hard to top North Cascades National Park as a getaway destination. Though it is only three hours from Seattle, the park is among the least visited of the national parks. Alpine peaks and lakes abound in the North Cascades, and more than 300 glaciers can be seen in the highest reaches of the park. Though there are modern lodging options in the surrounding areas, visitors to the park itself primarily resort to campsites or wilderness camping. Due to its backcountry nature, North Cascades is most popular among backpackers, climbers, and other adventurers. 

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Presidio of San Francisco

A gravel pathway winding through a thick forest

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Though it's not technically a national park, the Presidio of San Francisco is operated by the National Park Service. The 1,500-acre reserve sits on the north side of San Francisco, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge, and features beaches, hiking trails, historic landmarks, and sculptures by renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy. 

For couples, the most obvious attraction is perhaps Lover's Lane, a tree-lined path that leads back to the city. The Presidio was once a military post, and lore has it that Lover's Lane was the most direct route for soldiers to get to San Francisco to visit family or friends.