Experiencing Views

Going to a national park to enjoy the view might seem obvious. Of course, parks are beautiful - each in their own way. In some parks, you can feast your eyes on sweeping mountain vistas, endless turquoise blue waters, or the majestic Milky Way twinkling in the night sky. In others you can see the landscapes that were the backdrop of our nation's most historic moments. Enjoying the view means different things to different people. And there are many ways to do it.

So how do you enjoy the view? Here are some ways.

From the car

Cars drive Trail Ridge Road, which takes visitors across Rocky's alpine tundra at elevations of over 12,000 feet.
Cars drive Trail Ridge Road, which takes visitors across Rocky's alpine tundra at elevations of over 12,000 feet.

NPS Photo


In many parks, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views from the comfort of your own car. Scenic byways often offer a variety of geologic landforms and gorgeous views. For example, Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park covers 48 miles, climbing into the rocky mountains and peaking at 12,183 feet. You’ll really feel like you’re on top of the world (without the windchill if you stay in your car!). But remember to drive safely – go slow and keep your eyes on the road.

From the trail

Hiker sitting on a rock near a river
Hiking is a great way to enjoy park views on foot.

NPS / M. Reed


Ask any avid hiker, and they’re sure to mention views as a reason to hit the trail. Meandering through forests, along coastlines, across desert expanses, or along rocky ridges—hiking gives you the opportunity to become one with the scenery. And nothing beats a stunning view after a strenuous hike. The National Trails System even has lists of National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails to help get you started. Not up for a long hike? Check your park for shorter trails, or find a perfectly placed bench at a scenic lookout. Want an even richer experience? Spend the night in the outdoors and watch the landscape change as the sunlight wanes. Or maybe taking in the sights on the water is more your thing? Get a view of a place from a different angle by hopping on a water trail or taking a boat tour. No matter where you hit the trail, there’s a chance you could run into wildlife along the way. So remember, if you’re watching wildife: keep your distance and treat wildlife with proper caution and respect.


Take views with you

Unfortunately, most people can’t spend everyday outside gazing at nature’s wonders. But luckily artists, photographers, videographers, have captured views in parks in countless different ways. We can even snap our own photos quickly on our smartphones! (Get tips for taking good photos from our Beginner's Photography Guide.) Here are some ways to enjoy the view from wherever you are:

  • Webcams – Visit webcams, like our live air quality webcams, to enjoy the view at some of your favorite national parks.
  • Online Photo Galleries – Browse our photo galleries to feast your eyes on spectacular views captured by national park staff and the public.
  • In Print – Coffee table books, posters, calendars, you name it! People have found ways to enjoy views of nature at home. Visit the bookstore in your favorite national park to see what kind of prints your can take home with you.
  • Print Your Own! – Print your own photos! Enlarge them, frame them, and enjoy your own unique photos any time!
  • Share! – We'd love to see the views you capture. Upload your photos to your favorite social media platform using #NPSviews to share the view. We may even share your photos, too!

Visitors at the Grand Canyon
Take photos to take the view with you!

NPS Photo

Last updated: April 2, 2020


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