Are you looking for the coolest national parks in the Midwest?
There are many amazing national parks in the Midwest, including historical sights, natural landscapes, and architectural wonders.
From the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, there are so many Midwest national parks that are worth a visit.
I am a Midwestern girl through and through, born and raised in Youngstown Ohio.
I love the Midwest, and here I am going to share a wide variety of 15 of the best national parks in the Midwest.
15 Coolest National Parks In The Midwest
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
The stunning Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin is one of the best Midwest weekend getaways.
This group of 22 islands in Lake Superior is packed with awesome things to do.
Catch a glimpse of shipwrecks, glamp on the lakeshore, and relax on an Apostle Islands cruise.
And let’s not forget to enjoy the caves! You can kayak through the sea caves and explore the ice caves (depending on the season, of course).
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
One of the best weekend getaways in Ohio is undoubtedly Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
This national park is filled with awesome hikes, stunning greenery, and even some wildlife.
The most famous attraction in Cuyahoga Valley National Park by far is the eye-catching, 65-foot Brandywine Falls.
If you like, you can even take a train ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. By doing so, you can see quite a bit of the national park’s beautiful nature without having to exert much energy.
There are many Airbnbs in Ohio that you can relax at, once you are done exploring Cuyahoga Valley National Park!
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
If you love the water, Voyageurs National Park may be one of the best national parks in the Midwest for you.
There are quite a few spots to canoe, kayak, fish, and boat in this lovely national park. These areas include Kabetogama Lake, Ash River, and Rainy Lake.
Besides these bodies of water, there are a few other spots at Voyageurs National Park that are worth your time, including Kettle Falls and Ellsworth Rock Gardens.
As a matter of fact, there’s so much to do at Voyageurs National Park that you may want to consider looking into staying at a stunning Minnesota Airbnb closeby!
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
In 1832, Hot Springs National Park became the first piece of land that the U.S. government decided to preserve for recreational purposes – and this happened before U.S. national parks existed.
In other words, Hot Springs National Park is a gorgeous piece of land.
While there, you can hike, camp, and most importantly experience the hot springs.
There are two bathhouses, the Buckstaff Bathhouse and the Quapaw Bathhouse, that are filled with natural thermal water.
There is also the Display Spring and the Hot Water Cascade, where you can touch the naturally warm water (but not soak in it).
After a day of exploring consider staying at one of these epic cabins in the Midwest.
Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri
Most Americans know about the Getaway Arch in Missouri.
But most people don’t know the significance behind it and why it is one of the best national parks in the Midwest.
The 630-foot stainless steel arch was built as a monument in 1963 to celebrate the westward expansion of the United States.
As a matter of fact, it is often referred to as “The Gateway to the West.”
To this day, it is actually the world’s tallest arch!
While there, be sure to ride the tram to the top of the Gateway Arch. At the peak, you’ll be able to see stunning views of the city of St. Louis.
There are many Missouri Airbnbs that are waiting for you to visit and extend your stay!
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
The Badlands is undoubtedly one of the best national parks in the Midwest.
The red-tinted hills that the Badlands are known for are a combination of sandstone, limestone, volcanic ash, and so much more.
While there, hike the Notch Trail, drive the Badlands Loop Road, keep an eye out for adorable prairie dogs, and stay for a stunning sunset.
To learn as much as possible about the Badlands, you can take part in a Park Ranger program.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
Arguably the most iconic monument in the Midwest is Mount Rushmore.
Showcasing the faces of four presidents, this sculpture was carved into the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The four presidents depicted on this monument are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln
This national memorial was carved between 1927 and 1941 and is certainly one of the coolest national parks in the Midwest.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Isle Royale National Park is one of the most amazing national parks in the Midwest. This hidden gem is actually an island in Lake Superior!
And to make this little island even better, there are no permanent residents on the island, which means the natural landscape has been preserved.
To get to Isle Royale National Park, you’ll need to either take a ferry or a seaplane.
And once you finally step foot on the island, you can enjoy everything it has to offer. Hike, kayak, boat, fish, and scuba dive to your heart’s content.
If you want to linger, an Airbnb in Michigan is always available.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Named after the breathtaking rock formations and staggering cliffs on Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is truly a sight to see.
The most famous things to see at this Midwest national park include Miners Castle, Paddler’s Village, Munising Falls, and Miners Falls.
You can check out these natural wonders through fun hiking, kayaking, or boating adventures.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located on the shores of Lake Michigan.
The best thing to do at this national lakeshore is obviously to climb up the sand dunes that the national park is named after.
Like most sand dunes, it will take quite a bit of effort to reach the top. That said, the awe-inspiring views of Lake Glenn that you can see from the peak are worth it.
In addition to tackling the dunes, you can cruise down the Pierce-Stocking Scenic Drive and stroll along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail as well.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the highlight of the little town of Medora, North Dakota.
When at this awesome Midwest national park, you can hike, horseback ride, ski, and snowshoe.
And while there are tons of fun things to do during the day, nighttime is quite a special treat. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the best places in the Midwest for stargazing!
As a matter of fact, this national park is home to the annual three-day Dakota Nights Astronomy Festival.
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
Indiana Dunes National Park is essentially fifteen miles of sandy beaches along Lake Michigan.
In other words, it is certainly one of the best national parks in Midwest.
The list of things to do at Indiana Dunes National Park depends on the season.
In the warmer months, you can sunbathe, swim, and hike. While in the colder months, you can snowshoe and cross-country ski at this versatile national park.
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
As the name of the park implies, the highlight of Wind Cave National Park is the wind cave.
The primary reason for the popularity of the Wind Cave is the unique wind phenomenon that occurs. Depending on the atmospheric pressure ratio between the outside and the inside of the cave, the cave can either blow out strong gusts of air or pull strong gusts of air in.
In addition, the Wind Cave is also home to several underground lakes and ubiquitous calcite formations called boxwork.
As a matter of fact, this cave is so special that it was the first cave that became a national park anywhere in the world.
In order to see the Wind Cave, you must take a tour.
Other than paying a visit to the cave, you can also keep an eye out for wildlife, tackle one of the many hiking trails, or become a Wind Cave Junior Ranger.
Ozark National Scenic Riverway, Missouri
Ozark National Scenic Riverway is quite a special Midwest national park because it was the first national park established to protect a riverway.
This national park is home to hikes, freshwater springs, caves, and the historic Alley Mill.
Once upon a time, the bright red Alley Mill was used to transform wheat into flour. As the years passed, this building then became a sort of community center before it became part of this national park.
And Ozark National Scenic Riverway is of course a perfect place for an array of watersports, including boating, canoeing, swimming, and fishing.
Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, Wisconsin
While the Ozark National Scenic Riverway was the first protected riverway in the U.S., it is no longer the only one. Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway has been added to the ranks.
Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway is one of the more underrated national parks in the Midwest.
While at this hidden gem, you can kayak, canoe, fish, picnic, snorkel, hike, snowshoe and so much more.
No matter what nature-inspired activity you plan to do, you’re sure to have a great time at Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway.
Here I have listed 15 of the best national parks in the Midwest for your consideration. I hope you have so much fun!
Please leave a comment if you’ve been to one of these Midwest national parks. What was your experience like?
Packing List For A Trip To The Midwest
If you will be traveling, either by plane or by car to the midwest, here are some tips on how to pack lightly.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when visiting the midwest. It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.
his unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.
You can place it under your hiking clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
This configuration comes with enough credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your pouch or wallet.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast!
I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and so easy to use.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking selfies when staying in one of the best Airbnbs in Illinois.
Hydration is so important when traveling. You want to remain hydrated throughout your travels to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels.
You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for hiking and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
When filled with water, it is not too heavy to carry. And the charcoal filter ensures fresh clean water whenever you fill the Bobble.
You can find filter replacements here.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car.
Then this set of collapsible silicone foldable water bottles would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. when hiking This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great
It is very affordable and is available in many color options for you to choose from. The fact that it folds down into a zippered pouch will make it easy to pack.
Please know that Linda On The Run is a participant in Amazon’s Affiliate Program. This means I make a small about of money at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item.