Destinations

National Parks

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The vision of the National Park System is to set aside lands “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”. For us, this means exploring these majestic places through running! In honor of The National Park Service’s 100 year Anniversary, we’ve put together this guide of the best runs in the National Parks, with an emphasis on those that are most visited, popular, and good for running. To find the best and most appropriate running spots, we have talked to park rangers and scouted out routes! The focus is on accessibility and safety, while exploring the beauty within the parks. These are not serious trail runs or duplicative of suggested hikes. Rather, the approach is, if you are visiting a National Park, where are the most enjoyable, interesting, scenic, and appropriate places to go running?

When visiting parks, it is important that you practice “Leave No Trace” principles as well as respect the other visitors and wildlife.

Below is the list of National Parks we have covered. Also, please search “National Parks” for routes that might be in areas administered by the National Park Service (i.e. Boston Freedom Trail, Presidio of San Francisco).

All Great Runs Routes with a National Park Component

    Acadia National Park

    National Parks

    The Park Loop Road is great for running, especially the 5 mile section between Seal Beach and Little Hunters Beach. The Carriage Roads are special for running, with many options. And for a true challenge, run up Cadillac Mountain!
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    Shenandoah National Park

    National Parks

    75 miles from Washington, D.C., featuring the famed 105 mile Skyline Drive. Wonderful drive touring and hiking opportunities. Good running options along some of the gentler trails and fire roads. Trail runners will find lots of options here too!
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    Badlands National Park

    National Parks

    Dramatic landscapes spanning layered rock formations, steep canyons and towering spires. Best spots for running are along the Badlands Loop Scenic Highway, Sage Creek Rim Road, Castle Trail, and Sheep Mountain Table Rd.
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    Rocky Mountain National Park

    National Parks

    Wonderful park within 90 minutes of Denver. Majestic mountain views, mountain lakes, wooded forests, mountain tundra. Best running options are trails around Cub Lake, Lily Lake,Upper Beaver Meadow, and Emerald Lake.
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    Big Bend National Park

    National Parks

    A remote and isolated park, featuring gorgeous mountains, desert, and 120 miles along the Rio Grande River. Best running spots are some of the gentler mountain trails, in the desert, along the river, and some of the park's scenic roads.
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    Arches National Park

    National Parks

    Along with Canyonlands National Park, located in the outdoor recreational mecca around Moab, UT. For a run in Arches, we recommend the Landscape Arch, a nice 2-mile route starting at Devils Garden Trailhead.
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    Canyonlands National Park

    National Parks

    This area, near Moab, is a mecca for biking, hiking, climbing and other adventuring activities. Great running options in Canyonlands are Colorado River Overlook trail, Neck Springs, and a trail along Murphy Point Overlook.
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    Zion National Park

    National Parks

    The two best options for running are the Pa’rus Trail, which is a 1.7 mile, flat path skirting the Virgin River in the flat, lower section of Zion Canyon, and the 6.2 miles Scenic Drive from the Visitor Center to Temple of Sinawava.
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    Bryce Canyon National Park

    National Parks

    Bryce is marked by the salmon and orange-colored limestone that create a maze of spires, pinnacles and fins. Best running options are the new shared use bike path connecting Bryce and Red Canyon; and the 5.5 mile Rim Trail.
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    Grand Canyon South Rim

    National Parks

    The best running options are in the South Rim section of massive Grand Canyon. Great running along the Rim Trail, the network of Greenways throughout the Village and surrounding communities, and the Arizona National Scenic Trail.
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    Glacier National Park

    National Parks

    Pristine forests, alpine meadows, glacier-carved peaks, and spectacular lakes. Fantastic trail running options. Best gentler running is the Lake MacDonald area, which has a bike path and good running along the west shore.
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    Mount Rainier National Park

    National Parks

    240,000 acre park, 2-hour drive from Seattle. Wonderful running opportunities, around valleys, waterfalls, subalpine meadows, old-growth forest and glaciers. Best routes are along some of the less traveled side roads and gentler hiking trails.
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    Yosemite National Park

    National Parks

    Waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area in this 1,200 square mile park. Two good running options are the Yosemite Village Multi-Use Path, and Tuolumne Meadows.
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    Yellowstone National Park

    National Parks

    The world’s first national park, showcasing colorful hot springs, mudpots, and geysers, in addition to its dramatic mountains, forests, lakes and wildlife. Several good running options -- read our caution note about wildlife.
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    Death Valley National Park

    National Parks

    One of the more unique parks in terms of terrain, geography, and extreme weather. Fantastic opportunities for trail running -- though easy to get lost! Some good running options along park roads - sunrise/sunset are best.
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