13 national parks you need to follow on Instagram

The National Park Service turns 100 years old today, and even after all these years, America’s parks are still stunningly beautiful. 

From now until Aug. 28, you can get into all 412 national parks for free. That’s a lot of nature! You can find your nearest park using their website Find Your Park. Once you go, be sure to use the Chimani app to help plan your trip.

But, if for some reason you can’t physically get out and visit this weekend, you can at least enjoy these Instagram accounts from some of the best national parks in the country. Here are our favorites, ranked in no particular order, chosen for the quality and the beauty of their pictures.

1) Yosemite

Yosemite, located in California, was first protected in 1864. It’s 1,200 miles of staggering, bring-you-to-tears beauty. But it’s also one of the most popular national parks, and getting a campsite there can be harder than getting into certain posh restaurants. So take your virtual visit, and plan your in-person one for next summer.

2) Lake Clark

Lake Clark boasts some of Alaska’s best views. According to their website, at the park you can see “volcanoes steam, salmon run, bears forage, [and] craggy mountains reflect in shimmering turquoise lakes.” It’s pretty spectacular, but Alaska might be out of reach to some in the lower 48, so get your fix with their incredible Instagram full of animals, views, and little bits of history.

3) Katmai

A brown bear with wings 📷 @markusgrunau #alaska #brownbear #hybrid

A photo posted by Katmai National Park (@katmainps) on

Hope you like brown bear photos, because Katmai National Park’s Instagram is nothing but. Also located in Alaska, this park protects a landscape that houses an active volcano and thousands of bears. Its Instagram is a great way to get up close and personal with the bears, without having to risk life and limb (or having to buy an airline ticket).

4) Biscayne

If the cold Alaskan mountains and lakes aren’t your thing, perhaps you’ll go for Florida’s Biscayne National Park. Located near Miami, Biscayne boasts a landscape of turquoise waters and lush, green islands. Follow their Instagram for stunning sunsets and maybe a fish or two.

5) Hawaii Volcanoes

#DidYouKnow that 100 years ago, Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano was putting on quite a show for visitors and scientists, similar to what it’s doing today via a spattering, circulating and sometimes fountaining lava lake? Dr. Thomas A. Jaggar, the founder of what is today the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, took this photograph on July 25, 1916. According to the Weekly Bulletin of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Vol. IV, No. 8 dated August 1916, 100 years ago today on July 30, “the lake was visited at six-thirty p.m.….and in the Old Faithful section the lake was still pouring down into a cavern as on the previous day, but was now flowing between large lumps of spatter which had been built out from the during the early hours of the day. Moreover, there was an intensely interesting spectacle in progress at this point, for the cavern, or pot, every half-minute or so would become filled up from within, and then, as the under-pressure increased, there would be a great explosion; the lava would be forced under tremendous pressure, through every hole and crevice and would spurt in great jets some thirty feet up the bank. The spatter lumps already referred to, were thus subjected to a heavy bombardment, and eventually one of them collapsed, falling into the lake, and causing rapid longshore streaming towards the pot.” Sound familiar? If you’re up at Jaggar Museum observation deck with your camera and/or phone tonight, take a photo! Tag us with the hashtag #HVNP100. Who knows what the lava lake will do? We are two days and counting from the 100th anniversary of Hawai‘i (Volcanoes) National Park on August 1, 2016! This Monday is a fee-free day, and you’re invited to celebrate this special occasion. Image and information provided by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. #HVNP100 #FindYourPark #NPWest #NPS Centennial #Jaggar #USGS #HawaiianVolcanoObservatory #HawaiiNationalPark

A photo posted by Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (@hawaiivolcanoesnps) on

Hawaii. Volcanoes. Do you need more than that? OK. How about birds, whales, flowers, and Hawaii history and culture? This Instagram has it all! Follow to learn exciting things about active volcanoes and the habitats that form around them.

6) Arches

Arches National Park is so beautiful that Utah has its iconic rock formations on its license plates. According to their website, the arches formed through a complex and unusual process of erosion.

7) Bryce Canyon 

Utah is also home to the breathtaking Bryce Canyon. We’re not sure if this is the park’s official Instagram account. It also only has 32 photos. But those 32 photos are incredible and will make you want to plan your trip to this special spot immediately.

8) Hot Springs

This Southern gem is a great park to relax in some natural hot springs. But if the idea of visiting a hot spring in Arkansas in this unforgivingly hot summer is too much for you, you can at least look at this park’s Instagram and pretend the water is really crisp and cool.

9) Glacier

Good grief is this place stunning. The only verified National Park Service Instagram account we found, Glacier totally knows what it’s doing on social media. The Montana park has moose, mountains, and a little bit of magic, apparently. We couldn’t stop scrolling through this park’s incredible Instagram.

10) Yellowstone

Even when it’s on fire, this park is still amazing. Located mostly in Wyoming, Yellowstone’s expansive reach includes geysers, bison, and grizzly bears, oh my! Its Instagram is full of photos of all of these, as well as captions in several different languages.

11) Grand Teton

Do you like winter? Grand Teton’s got your number. Full of amazing photos of the snowy mountains of this Wyoming park, Grand Teton’s Instagram account is also educational! Learn about the ecosystem that supports the foxes, moose, and more with this follow.

12) Big Bend

This photo and quote was shared by @brightonvino: “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” ~ Tim Cahill

A photo posted by Big Bend National Park (@bigbendnps) on

Holy dang is this a pretty Instagram account! This Texan park has some big rocks, and people who know how to make them look their best.

13) Cuyahoga Valley

Believe it or not, Ohio isn’t just one giant corn field. It actually has a national park with a pretty solid Insta-game. The park is also home to a scenic railroad, which is featured prominently on their Instagram.

Happy birthday, National Parks Service. Here’s to another 100 years.

Cynthia McKelvey

Cynthia McKelvey

Cynthia McKelvey covered the health and science for the Daily Dot until 2017. She earned a graduate degree in science communication from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2014. Her work has appeared in Gizmodo, Scientific American Mind, and Mic.com.