Top U.S. Parks for Trail Running

There’s no denying that there are some fantastic parks in the U.S. parks system. No matter what sort of outdoor fun you’re into, you can probably find a U.S. park that can accommodate you. Love to run? Many parks feature great trails for running, and without the visual boredom of running circles around a track.

Looking for a challenge? A few trails that can really test your skills and stamina? Check out these—certainly no walk in the park:

1. Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona

Hard-core runners are always looking for places that put their endurance to the test. Arizona’s Lake Mead offers multiple trails that will test endurance and stamina while leading you into amazing canyons. If you are really looking to test yourself, remember that the temperatures in the Mojave Desert can reach 120ºF in the summer. And that’s in the shade. For the more casual runner, there are less dramatic running trails to occupy your time.

2. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

If you’re looking for fantastic views to go along with your rigorous trail run, the Grand Canyon has the terrain you may be looking for. The running trails here are clearly marked, to prevent wandering into unsafe territory, and give you spectacular views at either sunrise or sunset. If you’re yearning for an extreme challenge, try the 21 miles of the rim-to-rim (R2R) run. If you’re serious and want to push your limits, go for the rim-to-rim-to-rim (R2R2R) run. That one will take you over approximately 40 rigorous miles.

3. Zion National Park in Utah

This park never seems to run out of hills and climbing trails, and the elevation never dips below 3,500 feet. The pride-and-joy of the park is the grueling 2.5-mile run ascending to Angels Landing. The reward at the end is the most spectacular view in the entire park. There are easier trails for those not up to the challenge of Angels Landing. For those looking for long distance, the Zion Traverse is a run from one edge of the park to the other; a total of 48 miles.

4. Channel Islands National Park in California

Four islands make up this national park and each one proudly promotes its trails for hiking and running. To run these paths, you need to be surefooted and well-balanced, and you need to know the art of pacing yourself. There are various trails of differing levels, with most of the seriously challenging trails cutting a path into the mountainous interiors of the island, leaving the coastal trails for the casual runner. Length of the trails range from a short 2 miles to a strenuous 20 miles. The islands are only accessible by boat or plane, with the trip taking one to three hours.

Whether you’re looking for the challenge of a lifetime or just a nice place to take a leisurely jog, don’t overlook the trails available at our U.S. National Parks. Some of the best scenery is to be found in these parks, so enjoy it as a bonus while you’re running.