For Space, Beauty, and Good Fishing, Nothing Beats a National Park

By Tom Keer

Jul 10, 2014

According to the National Park Service, our country (including Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) has a whopping 7804 parks for us to visit.

According to the National Park Service, our country (including Alaska, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) has a whopping 7804 parks for us to visit.  The largest is in the Adirondacks, and there are some 6 million acres for Upstate New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy, and enjoy they did.  In 2009, some 700 million visitors vacationed in all such parks, which means if you’re looking for a great fishing vacation, one that can also provide camping, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, swimming for short money then check out a park.  You won’t be disappointed.  Here are a few options.

Great Smoky Mountains:  North Carolina and Tennessee

Established in 1934, there are 521,895 acres in two states!  Because of the temperate climate in these two states, the GreatSmokyMountainState Park is open all year.  And here’s the kicker: admission is free. Targeted species: trout, bass and panfish in 2,115 miles of streams.

Isle Royale:  Michigan

Here’s an interesting fact about the Isle RoyaleState Park.  There are fewer visitors to this park in one year than there are to Yellowstone in one day.  The 571,790 acres represents an opportunity for a true wilderness experience, with 3-5 day back country excursions available (access is via passenger boats which schedule pick up and drop off services).  Isle Royale is open from mid April through October, and stays cost $4.00 per day.  Targeted species: Over 40, with lake trout, brook trout, pike, perch and walleye being the common ones.

Yosemite:  California

Want to visit a state park that is as big as an entire state?  Then Yosemite is for you ‘cause it’s the size of Rhode Island.  It’s also one of the older parks and having been founded in 1890.  Visitors have some 747,956 acres to explore and since Yosemite is open year-‘round you’ll have ample opportunities to see a lot.  The price for admission is $20 per car per week.  Targeted species: Stream, river and creek fishing for brown, brook and rainbow trout.

Olympic National Park: Washington State

Some things get less expensive, and compared with Yosemite this one is it: $15 per car per week, with year round availability.  Founded in 1938, the 922,651 acre park has some roads that are closed in the winter, and when they are closed it’s not for long.  Targeted species: Over 3,000 miles of rivers and streams and hundreds of lakes and 73 miles of the PacificCoast.  You name it, but mostly trout, steelhead, and salmon.
You can search for these locations and more on the Places to Boat and Fish map to learn more about the fishing opportunities within each park.
Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at