Top US National Parks to See With a Guide

By Samantha Scott
April 19, 2018

Nothing quite beats a visit to a National Park. The United States is home to some of the most spectacular and most beautiful National Parks in the world. 

And even though they are easy to visit, when you go with a guide or on a multi-day tour, whole new worlds and depths of knowledge open up to you.

Guides are essential conduits of information. From natural history and present day conservation efforts, to human history and unique stories of exploration, when you go with a guide your experience is heightened and enriched. 

Why go with a guide, from an actual guide

A guide will ease your trip. They will handle all the permit juggling and reservation booking, while ensuring that your trip runs smoothly and safely throughout.

Guides are a resource. They share with you the history and explain the natural forces that led to where you are standing. Getting to know your surroundings, you learn the beautiful tree you passed is a thousand-year-old Sequoia.

The dry trail you are walking on, your guide tells you with a chuckle was covered in snow one year and they built a snowman right here. Amid these stories, guides will share the secrets to their successes and help you improve your skills, whether it’s pitching your tent in heavy winds or giving you a mouthwatering recipe for trail mix.

Enhancing your itinerary, your guide will show you the hidden gems you never even knew about.  They may wake you up early to beat the swarming tourists to the famous areas and then bring you to a secluded meadow of wildflowers. All in all, with a guide you will enjoy the wilderness without needing to worry about safety or logistics and will have a unique trip shaped by your guide’s knowledge and experience.

By Danielle O’Farrell, Backpacking Guide and blogger at


5 Top US National Parks to See With a Guide

1. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone national park

Yellowstone is by far one of the most visited US National Parks. You could easily visit for a week and still miss things. The park is chock full of impressive wildlife, most notably American Buffalo. You’ll also see grizzly bears, moose, elk, and a number of beautiful birds.

When you visit on a tour with a guide, you’ll have the opportunity to get off the main track and explore this incredible wilderness. Yellowstone is notable for the wildlife, but also for natural phenomenon.

The Old Faithful geyser with its impressive spout that comes like clockwork every day, and the hydrothermal pools displaying intense heat bubbling up from under the surface. A guide will help highlight these natural sights and explain the earth science behind them.

Tour to consider: Family Yellowstone Adventure »

2. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Gorgeous Yosemite is a perfect national park for families, featuring many easy trails that reveal tremendous sights. You can watch rock climbers scaling the impressive rock faces, and picnic with the sound of waterfalls nearby, as deer graze in meadow. It’s truly a spectacular destination.

A guide will reveal the incredible history of this area, both human history and natural history.

Serious backpackers looking for a challenge will enjoy using a guide to traverse the many challenging trails deep into beautiful forests.

Tour to consider: California's Great National Parks »

3. California Redwoods

Exploring the redwoods in California

No tree sighting is quite so daunting and impressive as a California redwood. With they distinctive red bark, curiously soft to to the touch and their massive trunks, these trees have awe-inspired for centuries.

The Redwood National Forest in northern California has many wonderful trails, most of which are quite easy. The lush greenery exhibits a classic Pacific Northwest look and feel, and some Star Wars fans may even get a tinge of recognition. It was in this area that many Endor scenes were filmed, so look out for Ewoks!

Guides will point out key filming spots, as well as regale your group with tales of the Redwood logging industry and its effect on these great trees. Redwoods are notable for their size so you’ll also be led to some of the biggest trees in North America and learn about their survival.

Tour to consider: Northern California »

4. Denali National Park

Denali National Park

Ah Alaska. The Final Frontier. Denali National Park, with its diverse landscape including glaciers, tundra, and forest is just spectacular - and truly showcases the Alaskan spirit.

There are several lodges throughout the park, and serviced by one main road in and out - preserving as much wilderness to be “wild” as possible. Denali is home to herds of majestic caribou - a beautiful sight to behold as they thunder past. The park also houses bears, coyotes, foxes, lynx, and wolverine.

When you travel with a guide, your chances of seeing the caribou increase as they’ll be familiar with migration patterns and know where they were last spotted. They can also enlighten visitors on the parks history, including the double name of the mountain the park reaches the base of.

Tour to consider: Highlights of Alaska »

5. Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon park in united states

Last but certainly not least, the Grand Canyon is on many a travelers bucket list. And for good reason. The park is very popular among families, hikers, and adventure travelers.

The desert like environment provides for fascinating wildlife watching. You’ll see many reptiles, such as lizards, snakes, and gila monsters. Mammals include the elusive bighorn sheep, elk, mountain lion, and deer.

Featuring incredible rock formations, beautiful sunsets, and miles upon miles of stunning canyonlands, this park is well worth visiting with a guide who can highlight all it has to offer. Many activities are available for the adventurous adrenaline seekers, such as helicopter tours, whitewater rafting, and of course rock climbing.

Tour to consider: Grand Canyon National Park Hiking and Camping Trip »

Getting Gear for your trip

Last Minute Gear

Now you're ready to explore the wilderness with a guide. But what should you bring and how much should you pack? 

Our friends at Last Minute Gear can help. Rent equippment or buy, it's up to you. And their knowledgable staff are available to answer any and all questions!

Ready for your next adventure? Find your perfect trip »

Share and Enjoy
621 Views    No comments

Write New Comment

Tours & Operators on Stride Awarded and Featured by:

  • National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure
  • Outside, The New York Times
Sign in to Save Trips
Welcome back! We're so happy to see you. ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
  • Bookmark trips you like
  • Share with your travel companions
  • Track price changes
  • Access private discounts on trips you save
Sign in to see your results

TripFinder is a member-only feature. Don’t worry, it’s free!

With a membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
Activate your free Stride membership

Just use the email address and password provided in the email we sent.

? Forgot Password?

With your free membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
To Follow, sign in or sign up (it's free) ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
member benefits
First name is required!
Last name is required!
First name is not valid!
Last name is not valid!
This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
Please enter valid email address
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 16 or less characters!
Passwords are not the same!
Terms and Conditions are required!
Email or Password is wrong!
Please select the captcha checkbox!
Please select the valid captcha!
Something went wrong! Try again later!
Find the 3 best trips for you.
Take a short quiz to recieve your top matches.