10 Most Scenic Overlooks in National Parks

National parks are filled with jaw-dropping views, but some are more scenic than others, offering backdrops so magnificent they should be a computer screensaver (kind of ironic, isn’t it?).

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If you love amazing views but just want to hit the highlights — and head straight for that money shot — read on for the most scenic overlooks in national parks.

1. Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park, California

When it comes to scenic overlooks, it doesn’t get much prettier than the view just outside the Wawona Tunnel on State Route 41 in Yosemite National Park. Conveniently, there’s a parking lot here, so visitors can easily pull over to snap a few shots of the beautiful view — no hiking required. From this scenic overlook, you can see some of the most iconic features of Yosemite National Park, including El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall (go in early spring to see the falls at peak flow).

2. Stony Hill Overlook, Denali National Park, Alaska

Alaska is a land of otherworldly beauty, but the views from Stony Hill Overlook nearly defy comprehension. While the alpine tundra spread before you is humbling, and the chance to spot wildlife is exciting, the view of snow-capped Mt. Denali — the tallest peak in North America — is the highlight of this spot. You can’t drive through Denali National Park in your own car (except for the first 15 miles of Denali Park Road), but during summer, transit buses and tour buses are available, and some route to include a stop and time for photos at Stony Hill Overlook.

3. Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The colors and textures of Bryce Canyon National Park are on striking display at Bryce Point, and there’s no better time to be there than at the dawn of a new day. Rise before the sun and feel free to wax poetic as you take in the fiery beauty — the canyon’s own namesake, Mormon pioneer Ebenezer Bryce, is only known to have commented, “It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow.” Bryce Point is a stop on the route of the free shuttle, but it doesn’t run before sunrise, so arrange your own transportation if you plan to catch this breathtaking daily display.

4. North or South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

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Views don’t get more scenic than the Grand Canyon, but picking the perfect vantage point can be tricky. The merits of the north and south rims of the Grand Canyon are hotly debated by travelers, but choosing which to visit should depend on your expectations in terms of crowds, convenience, and amenities. The South Rim is more commercialized and easier to access, thus it’s where most visitors go; however, some argue that that’s the appeal of the North Rim. It’s more isolated and requires more of a trek to get there, but you won’t deal with the same hordes of crowds. Luckily, there’s no ugly views in the Grand Canyon, so you really can’t go wrong.

5. Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Complete with mountain, river, forest, and sky, the views from Snake River Overlook feel like being inside a postcard (or maybe Heaven). Visit during summer for lots of color and clear views, or during fall for lovely golden hues as the leaves change. It’s easy to get to Snake River Overlook from Highway 89/191 and there’s ample parking, so there’s little effort required to access these amazing views — a major perk for the non-hikers among us.

6. Range View Overlook, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

The views along Skyline Drive make it hard to keep your eyes on the road, so you’ll be more than ready to pull over once you reach the Range View Overlook at mile marker 17.1, located five miles north of Mathews Arm Campground. You can see several different peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you look south from this 2,810-foot scenic lookout, and they seem to roll on forever into the distance.

7. Sinnott Memorial Overlook, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

It’s admittedly hard to find a bad view on the Rim Drive surrounding Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park, but the views from Sinnott Memorial Overlook are among the best. Plus, this sheltered viewpoint built into the cliffside 900 feet above Crater Lake is located near the Rim Village Visitor Center, Crater Lake Lodge, and the cafe and gift shop. Leave plenty of time here to gaze in wonder at the mind-bending blues of the deepest, purest lake in America.

8. Canyon Overlook, Zion National Park, Utah

A short hike on the Canyon Overlook Trail will lead you to some of the most incredible views to be found in Zion National Park. The scenic hike to this surreal lookout is only about a mile round trip; to get there, you’ll pass through the famous Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel on Route 9, then find the trailhead starting just east of the tunnel. At the overlook area, views into the canyon will inspire you to marvel at this geographic wonder.

9. Morton Overlook, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

You can see both North Carolina and Tennessee from the Morton Overlook, located along U.S. 441/Newfound Gap Road (stop by the Newfound Gap lookout just a mile down the road for more jaw-dropping views), but the real delight of this spot is getting a taste for why this range of peaks is dubbed the Great Smoky Mountains. The range seems to be shrouded in smoky beauty as it extends into the horizon. Finish your day here for one of the best sunsets of your life.

10. Many Parks Curve Overlook, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

The Many Parks Curve Overlook is located at a hairpin turn on Trail Ridge Road and offers a panoramic vista of the Mummy Range and (you guessed it) many of Colorado’s most popular parks, including Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park, Little Tuxedo Park, and parts of Estes Park. Here, the journey really is the destination since views are plentiful along Trail Ridge Road, the highest highway in the United States.

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