Looking for the best National Parks to visit in July? Here are the ones to visit this July.

July is a great time to visit National Parks, especially those with short seasons. We found out the hard way that some parks are only open in July and August, and now we try to prioritize them these two months.

Some parks also hold special events, so if you’re trying to decide which park to visit this month, we have you covered (learn from our mistakes)!

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Last Updated: June 1, 2024

Before we get into it, we want to remind everyone to explore the parks responsibly using the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. Have a plan, stay on established trails, carry out anything you carry in, leave what you find, minimize campfire impact, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others.

About the National Park by Month Series

To put together this list, we’ve combined our personal experiences and tips we gathered from locals and cross-referenced them with the weather, accessibility, local forums, seasonal attractions like fall foliage or wildflowers, and special events happening in the area. We also considered any unique adventures only offered at certain times of the year to find the most optimal months to visit each National Park. Phew! That was a lot!

It took me a whole week of research, but since I’m a maximizer, it was completely worth having a year-round calendar of adventures (publishing that soon!). Also, check out our complete list of all the national parks and all national park units that include soon-to-be national parks.

We also chose not to include the hardest-to-access national parks in Alaska and the ones in U.S. territories in this series.

National Parks By Month: Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec

Is July a Good Time to Visit National Parks?

July is the peak season for many National Parks, but July and August are your only options at the parks with short seasons. The parks that close access to trails and roads because of snow are typically fully open by July, and the long days take the pressure off if you want to take longer hikes at a slower pace.

One of the main cons is the crowds. Because of the high demand, you can expect higher prices for accommodations and flights. We recommend avoiding the desert parks, like Death Valley or Joshua Tree, because it’s unbearably hot.

Are national parks open on July 4th?

Most national parks are open on July 4th, but double-check with each specific national park in case there are special closures.

Plan on visiting more than two national parks this year? Pick up an America the Beautiful annual pass to save money (entrance fees to each park are, on average, $30-35 per vehicle). Plus, you are helping support the Parks that always need funding.

9 Best National Parks to Visit in July

For the Events

1. Badlands National Park for the Astronomy Festival →

43.6835523,-102.6622546, map

Average Temperatures: 60° F / 90° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:15 AM / 8:30 PM

Why Visit: The Badlands Astronomy Festival happens every July, and they’ve partnered with NASA this year. During the day, you can explore the dramatic landscapes, see the wildlife, then turn your eyes to the sky when the sun goes down.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drives, Wildlife Viewing, Stargazing, Hiking

Don’t Miss:

To Do – Fossil Preparation Lab, Sage Creek Rim Road, Sheep Mountain Table, Badlands Loop Road

Wildlife – Bison, Prairie Dogs, Bighorn Sheep, Black-Footed Ferret

How many days do you need? 1-3

Pro Tip: Most of the highlights can be seen from the scenic drives, but hop out for some easy hikes (most are 1.25 miles or less).

See More: 9 Incredible Things to Do in Badlands National Park South Dakota

For the Short Season

2. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon →

Crater Lake National Park, Rim Village, OR 97604, map

Average Temperatures: 40° F / 70° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:40 AM / 8:45 PM

Why Visit: Visit Crater Lake from July to September since all the roads and facilities are typically open and the weather is warm. On our first visit, we went in June, and half of the park loop was still closed due to snow (they average 40 feet of snow each year). Since snowfall and snowmelt can vary yearly, check their website for closures for the most up-to-date info.

Best For / Top Activities: Hikers and Backpackers, Tours, Photography, Scenic Drives, Swimming

Don’t Miss:

To Do – Rim Drive, Boat Tour, Visit Wizard Island

Wildlife – Black Bears, Porcupines, Elks, Coyotes, Mazama Newt

How many days do you need? 1-3

Pro Tip: Be prepared for chilly water if you plan to swim!

See More: The Ultimate Guide to Crater Lake National Park

3. Denali National Park, Alaska →

Park Rd, Denali National Park and Preserve, AK 99755map

Average Temperatures: 49°F / 67°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 4:30 AM / 11:30 PM

Why Visit: Denali also has a very short season, and the long days (almost neverending) and warmer weather make it one of the best national parks to visit in July. Although you can’t drive into the park (you must shuttle in), it is one of the few national parks in Alaska you can drive to, which is why we included it. During the summer, shuttle buses run up and down Denali Park Road, where you can spot lots of wildlife.

Best For / Top Activities: Hikers / Backpackers, Scenic Drive, Wildlife Viewing, Photography, Tours

Don’t Miss:

To Do – Tundra Wilderness Tour, Flightseeing Tour, Canine Rangers

Wildlife – Dall Sheep, Moose, Caribou, Wolves, Grizzly Bears, Foxes

How many days do you need? 2-4

Pro Tip: Private vehicles can only drive for the first 15 miles (except for rare circumstances like the Denali Road lottery which is very difficult to get). Beyond this point, you will have to ride the park shuttle.

See More: 17 Unforgettable Things to Do in Denali National Park

4. Glacier National Park, Montana →

Logan’s Pass Visitor Center, Browning, MT 59417, map

Average Temperatures: 45° F / 77° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:45 AM / 9:30 PM

Why Visit: The famous Going-to-the-Sun Road (one of the best scenic drives in the US) is finally open in July, giving you some of the best leisure views in the park. Plus, wildflowers bloom in the meadows. Remember to get a permit to drive the road or book a tour if you want to focus on the views.

Best For / Top Activities: Scenic Drive, Hiking / Backpacking, Kayaking, Tours, Fishing, Wildlife Viewing

Don’t Miss:

To Do – Going-to-the-Sun Road (requires a permit), Red Bus Tour, Lake McDonald, Goose Island (from The Shining)

Wildlife – Deer, Marmots, Mountain Goats, Big Horned Sheep, Grizzly Bears, Black Bears

How many days do you need? 2-4

Local Tip: Some people say you should go in September, since you may also get a chance to see fall colors. It’s cooler, and much less crowded since school will have started back up, but you risk parts of the park closing due to weather.

See More: 9 Incredible Things to Do in Glacier National Park

5. Great Basin National Park, Nevada →

100 Great Basin, Baker, NV 89311, map

Average Temperatures: 55° F / 85° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:45 AM / 8:15 PM

Why Visit: Great Basin is one of the best national parks to visit in July because of the short season. The weather in July is great for climbing the second-highest peak in Nevada (Wheeler Peak), touring Lehman Caves, and seeing wildlife and wildflowers. It also has some of the best skies for stargazing.

Best For / Top Activities: Hikers / Backpackers, Stargazing

Don’t Miss:

To Do – Bristlecone Trail, Lehman Caves, Wheelers Peak, Stella Lake

Wildlife – Water Shrews, Voles, Porcupines, Beavers, Ringtail Cats, Marmots, Bobcats, Mountain Lions

How many days do you need? 1-3

Local Tip: If you’re super into astronomy, visit in September when they have their annual Astronomy Festival.

See More: 7 Things You Can’t Miss in Great Basin National Park

6. North Cascades National Park, Washington →

376 Newhalem St, Marblemount, WA 98267, map

Average Temperatures: 50° F / 75° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:15 AM / 9:00 PM

Why Visit: North Cascades National Park also has a short season, and to truly experience and access most of the park, you need to hike. July has great weather to be outside. We did the scenic drive on our last visit, but we need to go back for the iconic hikes. It’s also one of the least visited national parks in the US, so you can go here to avoid the typical summer crowds.

Best For / Top Activities: Hikers / Backpackers, Fishing

Don’t Miss:

To Do – Scenic Drive along North Cascades Highway, Cascade Pass, Sahale Arm, Washington Pass Overlook, Diablo Lake Vista Point, Stehekin

Wildlife – Black Bears, Gray Wolves, Elks, Beavers, Bobcats

How many days do you need? 1-3

Pro Tip: Plan ahead since you can only access Stehekin Valley by foot, boat, or plane.

See More: 7 Best Things to Do in North Cascades National Park

7. Olympic National Park, Washington →

3002 Mt Angeles Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98362, map

Average Temperatures: 50° F / 70° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:30 AM / 9:00 PM

Why Visit: July is a great time to visit Olympic National Park. The mild weather makes it pleasant to be outside. The park is massive, with multiple ecosystems, including temperate rainforests, rugged coastlines, and alpine regions. Plus, July is a great time to check out the tide pools and beaches.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking / Backpacking, Tidepools, Scenic Drives, White Water Rafting, Kayaking

Don’t Miss:

To Do – Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach, Storm King, Sol Duc Falls, Shi Shi Beach

Wildlife – Deer, Elk, Cougars, Bears, Beaver, Mink, Salmon

How many days do you need? 2-4

Local Tip: It’s always smart to have a raincoat with you just in case.

See More: 15 Things to Do in Olympic National Park

For the Great Weather

8. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado →

11999 CO-150, Mosca, CO 81146, map

Average Temperatures: 50° F / 82° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:45 AM / 8:30 PM

Why Visit: Visit Great Sand Dunes in July for the warm weather. You can hike the tallest dunes in North America and even sandboard or sled down the dunes. Medano Creek should flow at the dune’s base, giving you an almost beach-like experience in the mountains.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Sand Boarding, Off-Roading, Stargazing, Photography

Don’t Miss:

To Do – High Dune, Sand Boarding, Medano Creek, Zapata Falls

Wildlife – Mule Deer, Ord’s Kangaroo Rats, Black Bears, Abert’s Squirrels, Pronghorn, Pikas, Elk

How many days do you need? 1-3

Local Tip: The dune’s surface temperatures can still get hot, so feel it before you commit.

See More: 9 Things You Can’t Miss at Great Sand Dunes National Park

9. Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Park, California →

47050 Generals Hwy, Three Rivers, CA 93271, map

Average Temperatures: 50° F / 80° F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 5:45 AM / 8:15 PM

Why Visit: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are next to each other, so most visitors treat them like one big park. The weather is great in July, so you can explore the giant sequoia forests or jump in the river when it’s hot.

Best For / Top Activities: Hikers / Backpackers, Scenic Drive, Photography, Swimming

Don’t Miss:

To Do – Grant Drove, Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, General Sherman Tree, Moro Rock

Wildlife – Coyotes, Badgers, Black Bears, Deer, Wolverines, Beavers

How many days do you need? 2-3

See More: 15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Map of the Best National Parks to Visit in July

More National Parks to Visit in July

Acadia National Park, Maine – great weather

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – great weather

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee – great weather

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington – wildflowers

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado – wildflowers

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming – weather and wildlife

Yosemite National Park, California – weather

Tips for Visiting National Parks in July

Use the Leave No Trace principles. Have a plan, stay on established trails, carry out anything you carry in, leave what you find, minimize campfire impact, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others.

Pick up the National Park Annual Pass if you plan on visiting multiple parks within the year. It saves you a lot of money.

Want to see wildflowers? Climate change and droughts can make timing unpredictable. We typically scroll through Instagram or TikTok and look for non-influencers. 

Packing layers is always a good idea when traveling. Some parks drastically change temperatures from day to night. Pay attention to the elevation change. A general rule is that it’s 5 degrees cooler for every 1000 ft elevation.

You may need a reservation. See national parks that now require reservations here.

Closures – Always check the park’s site and Visitors Center for the most up-to-date information on closures.

Remember that wildlife is wild. Be familiar with how to interact with animals and how much space you should have between you and them. Generally, you should stay 25 yards from most wildlife and 100 yards from predators, but each park has different rules.

What to Pack

How you pack depends on the parks and activities, but here are general items we always pack.

Camera Gear

Travel Backpack

Camping / Backpacking Equipment

National Park Annual Pass

National Park Passport

Layers (The Best Travel Jackets)

Solid Hiking Shoes

Planning Checklist

Get comprehensive insurance for your trip.

Download these helpful language apps.

Arrange a rental car for your trip.

Get airport lounge access.

Buy a travel charger to keep your devices charged.

Get a new backpack for your trip.

Pack the appropriate shoes for your trip.

Don’t forget your in-flight essentials.

Can you think of others that belong on this list of best National Parks to visit in July? Which ones are we missing?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

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