When you think about romantic getaways, national parks might not be the first places that come to mind. However, with 63 named national parks and a whole slew of other park units across the United States, you have to admit the USA national parks are located in some pretty awesome places. And some of these places seem to be made for romance so it’s only reasonable that a few of them are romantic national parks.
This article contain affiliate links. That means I may earn a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you book or buy something through a link I share. This keeps Southerner Says online and on the road. Thank you for your support.
Romantic National Parks
What makes a national park romantic? Well, for sure a sensational setting and beautiful scenery. National parks are known for unique landscapes and views you just don’t see every day. Also, most parks are located close to picturesque gateway towns, with inviting hotels and luxurious amenities.
Like to camp? Then cozy park campgrounds and sleeping bag snuggling can be a great way to get closer – literally. Throw in some fun, couple-type activities and you have the ideal recipe for romance. I’ve yet to visit all the national parks but out of the ones I have been to, I’d consider these the most romantic national parks.
Yosemite National Park
Ginormous trees, thundering waterfalls and towering mountains are the backdrop for romance in California’s Yosemite National Park. Few parks offer the impressive views at seemingly every turn that Yosemite does. All this adds up to an overload of beauty.
Pretty things have a way of putting you in a good mood and good moods make for great romance. The mountains and Yosemite Valley are the perfect place to settle into a cabin, one of the historic park lodges or even a campground because who cares where you are sleeping when you have those kinds of views.
Inside the park, Yosemite boasts three lodges including the luxurious The Ahwahnee, open all year. However, you’ll have to plan early if you have specific dates or a special day in mind. Yosemite hotels and campgrounds book up notoriously fast.
Outside the park, staying on the western or southern side of the park is a good idea since the east entrance is closed during the winter. How about a cute woodsy cabin with a hot tub or a stay at an beautiful inn? And don’t forget the s’mores.
Hot Springs National Park
Hot springs and hot tubs are synonymous with romance and physical well-being. And Hot Springs National Park, in Arkansas, offers both. That’s why it tops the list of romantic national parks. No where else in the national park system can you visit a bath house and have a soak.
The park, and what is now the town of Hot Springs, has been drawing curious visitors for thousands of years. With the unique mix of thermal springs, green mountains and rolling creeks in the southern United States, it’s no wonder it’s been a popular attraction for so long and was named a national park in 1921.
Plan a hike to Hot Springs Mountain Tower for panoramic views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains and downtown or rent a bike and pedal Hot Springs Creek Greenway Trail. While there isn’t a dedicated national park lodge within Hot Springs National Park, you’ll find an array of luxurious accommodations, like the Hotel Hale, in a former bathhouse, just steps away from the park visitor center.
Grand Teton National Park
Cabins, roaring fires, and plenty of fun things to do like sleighrides, snowmobiling and skiing, if there’s a more romantic national park than Grand Teton National Park, make your case now because once you see those mountains you are destined to fall in love. If not with your travel partner then at least with the mountains themselves.
Located in Wyoming, where the lack of people in the state make it a prime road tripping and travel destination, and extra romantic. Grand Teton National Park is one park where you can count on some alone time if you know where to go. Hike a few trails, visit Jenny Lake and Signal Mountain Summit Road for some of the dreamiest views of the snow covered peaks.
Stay downtown Jackson at the historic Wort Hotel. This allows you to wander around town if the weather is snowy. Pick up some coffee, and a treat, from Cowboy Coffee before lacing up your skates to a take a few turns on the free ice skating rink in the town square. Include the National Elk Refuge in your plans to see some spectacular winter wildlife scenes.
White Sands National Park
There’s nothing like new experiences and acting like a kid again to rekindle the spark of love. And visiting White Sands National Park is like being in a big sandbox. Play in the sand by trekking across the dunes – no worries, they stay cool since gypsum doesn’t absorb the heat from the sun – and sledding. The visitor center even has a few sleds for rent so you don’t have to bring your own.
And who doesn’t enjoy looking at the stars with their beloved? White Sands National Park has some of the darkest skies and unobstructed views in New Mexico, perfect for stargazing and night photography. If you happen to visit during the full moon, join the park service’s full moon party, complete with live music, ranger programs and special guests and local artists.
Book a overnight in Cloudcroft, a small mountain town just 35 miles away, on the edge of the Lincoln National Forest. This romantic village is the ideal getaway for hiking, fishing, bird watching and even skiing, all activities which are way more fun with a partner. Discover local handicrafts in the shops that dot the town or savor a cup of tea from Old Barrel Tea Company.
Acadia National Park is One of the Most Romantic Parks
Right out of a Hallmark movie, the tiny charming town of Bar Harbor is the gateway to Maine’s crown jewel of the northeast, Acadia National Park. Thundering waves, easy scenic drives and misty foggy mornings – this park is pure romance.
Explore the carriage roads hand in hand and stop into the Jordan Pond House for their famous popovers. Pack a picnic and soak up the sun at Sandy Beach or Schooner Head Overlook. Spend a romantic morning watching the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, the first place on the continental U.S. to catch the sun’s rays.
Maine is home to many historic buildings and charming cottages that have been transformed into inviting bed and breakfasts or cozy inns. In Bar Harbor, experience ultimate relaxation by booking a stay at one of the these historical landmarks. Wake up to the sounds of the marina in Frenchman’s Bay and enjoy a waterfront brunch before setting sail on a Windjammer boat tour. Or spend the day biking through the park enjoying nature together.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Towering snowy peaks, wildlife sightings and easy walks around stunning alpine lakes – love is in the air – quite literally, at Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most romantic national parks in the United States.
The park sits at elevations of 7,860 feet to 14,259 feet – depending on where you are in the park – and is home to one of the highest roads in a national park, Trail Ridge Road. (Trail Ridge Road is closed during winter). Climbing to 12,000 feet, this exciting, and at times, nail-biting route, is one most breathtaking drives in the U.S. There’s an abundance of scenic overlooks and pull-offs, you can’t help but want to share the views with a sweetheart.
After touring the park, hole up in a cabin with a view and watch for wildlife. Estes Park, the closest park adjacent town on the eastern side, is known for its rambunctious elk herd. This casual town is also notorious for its fishing rivers, iconic views and the Riverwalk full of unique sculptures. Plus, the shopping in town is unparalleled, full of art galleries and one of a kind handmade items.
Shenandoah National Park
Virginia is for lovers, so how could a list about romantic national parks not have Shenandoah National Park on it? Nestled in the heart of the state, Shenandoah provides a romantic and serene retreat amidst the landscapes of the Appalachia.
The 105 mile Skyline Drive, meanders through the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains, providing private moments and opportunities for couples to traverse hiking paths to a variety of stops that offer gorgeous views of the famously “misty or smoky” mountains and rolling hills this area is so known for. Throw in a visit to one of the many wineries, a short distance from the park, and you have the makings of a very romantic day.
As the sun sets, the Shenandoah’s skyline transforms into the warm colors of a painting, setting the stage for a beautiful evening under a star-filled sky. Just about any season is ideal for cruising Skyline Drive but autumn, is particularly nice for a visit. Stay in Front Royal, the northern entrance to Shenandoah, and enjoy the quaint town or overnight in Luray, a gateway to some awesome adventures and underground caverns.
Virgin Islands National Park
The sound of the waves, the mesmerizing colors of the water, the smell of tropical flowers in the air – there’s nothing more romantic than an island and one of the most romantic national parksin the world has to be Virgin Islands National Park.
Located on St. John, one of the more than 50 islands that make up the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), Virgin Islands National Park is a haven of natural beauty with pristine beaches ideal for swimming and snorkeling in the warm Caribbean Sea. Don’t miss dipping your toes in at Honeymoon Beach, or snorkeling at Caneel Bay and the Coral Reef Underwater Trail Park.
Enjoy the island’s lush landscapes by hiking a few of the 20 trails in the park. The Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop and Boardwalk is an easy .5 walk through bay rum trees and ruins of the historic Cinnamon Bay Sugar Plantation. Make the trek to the America Hill ruins (1.5 miles), with sweeping views of the entire island and surroundings.
For adventurous couples, the park offers camping and small primitive cottages at Cinnamon Bay. For those that prefer to explore the park by day but sleep in a bit luxury at night, consider the Westin St. John Resort or the, closer to the action, Wharfside Village Hotel, located right in in Cruz Bay, where you’ll find plenty of fun restaurants with live music and bottomless rum punch.
Tips for Visiting Romantic National Parks
- Purchase an America the Beautiful park pass. The pass $80 and covers the entrance fee at over 2,000 federal land sites throughout the U.S. and its territories. Purchase in person at participating parks that sell passes, online at the USGS store, online at Recreation.gov or directly from REI, who makes a 10% donation to the National Parks Foundation.
- Stop in at the park’s visitor center to pick up a map and find out about any special events or ranger-led activities. They are a great way to learn more about the park, find out some interesting tidbits about the history and get some great insight from someone that lives there.
- Remember to tread lightly and use Leave No Trace principles when visiting public lands. For more info and how-to, visit their website.