If you love to visit national parks, you want to maximize your time inside the park, not traveling there. The only way to truly guarantee you can spend as much time as possible inside your favorite national park is to own a house near that park.
Of course, there’s just one problem: paying for that house.
If you’ve ever wondered just exactly how much it costs to live near a national park, the good news is that Outforia, the ultimate guide for everything outdoors, has already done some of that research. To determine what it would cost to buy a house near a national park, Outforia used Zillow to record the average cost of property in the town nearest each national park. The agency then compared that price to the average price of a house in the state as a whole.
As you would expect, you’ll pay a premium price to have the luxury of seeing one of America’s most scenic national parks out of your front door. Depending on your circumstances, however, perhaps the location is worth the price.
So let’s get right to it. Whether you’re just curious or are serious about making a move, here are the 10 most expensive places to live near U.S. national parks.
1. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Located in northwestern Wyoming — north of the town of Jackson, and south of Yellowstone National Park — Grand Teton National Park features 200 miles of trails through 310,000 acres of valleys, mountain meadows, alpine lakes, and rugged peaks of the Teton Range in the Rocky Mountains. With those types of attractions, it’s no wonder people visit the park for hiking, backcountry exploring, climbing, and mountaineering. The park is also known for being home to large numbers of bears, elk, bison, mule deer, and pronghorn.
As you would expect, Grand Teton draws large numbers of visitors. In 2020, the park had 3.3 million visitors, making it the country’s 5th-most-visited national park. Those numbers were slightly down from 3.4 million visitors in 2019.
The average cost of a house in Wyoming is $276,278. The average cost of a house in Moose, Wyoming, about 10 miles outside Grand Teton, is $1,353,588, a whopping 389.94 percent increase, according to Outforia’s research.
You can find all of our Grand Teton coverage here.
2. Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
Indiana Dunes, tucked in the southwest corner of Lake Michigan, offers 15 miles of sandy beach as well as 50 miles of trails through wetlands, prairies, rivers, and forests. Since it’s located just 50 miles from Chicago in northeast Indiana, you can even see Chicago’s skyline on a clear day across the lake. In 2020, nearly 2.3 million people visited the park.
Now, about those sand dunes. Here’s how they were formed: When a glacier receded from the area approximately 10,000 years ago, it left Lake Michigan, along with the beaches and sand dunes, behind. The wind and waves from Lake Michigan continue to deposit sand on the shore.
Indiana Dunes may have a Porter, Indiana, address but the town of Dune Acres is just over two miles from the park. Here’s why that’s important to know. The average price of a house in Indiana is $188,505. The story is different in Dune Acres, where the average cost of a house increases by 328.52 percent. There, the average cost of a house is $807,779, Outforia’s research found.
You can find all of our Indiana Dunes coverage here.
3. Glacier National Park, Montana
Called the “Crown of the Continent” by the National Park Service, Glacier is known for its rugged mountains, forests, and spectacular lakes. Plus, with more than 700 miles of trails, the National Park Service calls the park a “hiker’s paradise.”
Then again, you don’t need to hike to enjoy Glacier. One of the park’s most popular attractions is the Going-to-the-Sun Road, an almost 50-mile scenic road that makes its way through the park — and crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass in the process.
It’s no wonder that the park drew more than 3 million visitors in 2019. By the way, that number made Glacier the 10th most-visited national park in the country.
West Glacier, Montana, is the most popular entrance to Glacier National Park. While the average cost of a house in Montana is $367,030, the average cost of a house in nearby West Glacier is 165.97 percent more, or $976,177, according to Outforia’s research.
You can find all of our Glacier coverage here.
4. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Located along Cuyahoga River in Ohio, Cuyahoga Valley is a 33,000-acre stretch of forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands between Cleveland and Akron. Two of its most popular attractions are the 60-foot-tall Brandywine Falls waterfall and the Towpath Trail, which follows the historic route of the Ohio and Erie Canal. The trail is hard packed, making it accessible for people using wheelchairs, bicycles, and even strollers.
Cuyahoga Valley was the seventh most-visited national park in the country last year, in part because it’s only 22 miles from Cleveland, 113 miles from Pittsburgh, and 129 miles from Columbus, Ohio. In 2020, the park drew 2.8 million visitors. That number was up, perhaps due to people trying to stay close to home, from the previous year’s attendance of 2.2 million visitors.
The average cost of a house in Ohio is $184,247. While Cleveland is close to Cuyahoga Valley, Peninsula is even closer — just miles away. According to Outforia’s findings, the average cost of a house there is $304,809, which is 65.43 percent more than the state’s average.
You can find all of our Cuyahoga Valley coverage here.
5. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone, the country’s first national park, is one of America’s premier wilderness areas. The park, which encompasses more than 2.2 million acres and has more than 900 miles of hiking trails, offers spectacular hiking, wildlife watching, biking, photography, and camping — both in campgrounds and in the backcountry. Yellowstone, of course, is also home to Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.
Yellowstone drew 3.8 million visitors last year, which was a drop from four million visitors in 2019. Even so, it still was the second most-visited national park in the country last year.
Yellowstone is mainly in Wyoming, but it also stretches into Idaho and Montana. As was previously noted, the average cost of a house in Montana is $367,030. Surprisingly, to me, anyway, the average cost of a house in West Yellowstone is just $557,698, or 51.95 percent more, according to Outforia’s research.
You can find all of our Yellowstone coverage here.
6. Acadia National Park
Called the “Crown Jewel of the North Atlantic Coast” by the National Park Service, Acadia is a 47,000-acre recreation area on the Atlantic coast in Maine. Last year, it was the eighth most-visited national park in the country, drawing 2.7 million visitors. What’s more, park officials expect to set a new attendance record this year.
Here’s why people are drawn to the park, which is primarily on Mount Desert Island. It has 27 miles of historic motor roads, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads. In the summer, visitors can bike, hike, birdwatch, swim, stargaze, and, of course, boat. In the winter, visitors hike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and ice fish.
Acadia may only be around 50 miles from Bangor, Maine, but Bar Harbor — also on Mount Desert Island — shares a border with the park. If you’d like to live in Bar Harbor, just minutes away from Acadia, a house will cost you $438,876. If you’d like to buy a house somewhere else in Maine, the average cost is 40.16 percent cheaper — $313,134, according to Outforia’s research
You can find all of our Acadia coverage here.
7. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Located in the Zig-Zag Mountains, a section of the Ouachita Mountains, the park is known for its hot spring water that many people believe holds medicinal properties. Interestingly, the National Park Service explains that the thermal spring water rising to the surface today originally fell on the area as rain “when the Pyramids of Egypt were being built.”
While attendance was down last year, close to 1.5 million people traveled to Hot Springs National Park in 2019.
In addition to the thermal springs, the park is known for 26 miles of hiking trails through the forest. If you enjoy birding, you’re also in luck. Birding is possible year round in Hot Springs and the species even change during spring and fall migrations.
The average cost of a house in Arkansas is a modest $151,472. If you’d like to buy a house in Hot Springs, the average cost is $195,738. Outforia notes that is a 29.22 percent difference.
You can find all of our Arkansas coverage here.
8. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain, about a 90-minute drive from Denver, includes 415 square miles of land and is home to 76 mountains that are all more than 10,000 feet tall. The park is known for its 355 miles of hiking trails, where you can see bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, and other wildlife.
The park was the fourth most-visited national park in the country last year, which makes sense considering its beauty and nearness to Denver. While Rocky Mountain drew 3.3 million visitors last year, that number was noticeably down from the 4.7 million visitors in 2019 due to park closures stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Actually, Rocky Mountain has broken visitation records six times since 2012.
The average price of a house in Colorado is $501,345. You’ll still pay a premium to live in neighboring Estes Park, but the average cost of a house there is just 20.21 percent more, or $602,658, according to Outforia’s study.
You can find all of our Rocky Mountain coverage here.
9. Channel Islands National Park, California
Five islands make up Channel Islands National Park: Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. Interestingly, the 1,470-square miles of ocean around the five islands make up the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
Since the islands are located off the coast of Southern California, most people depart for the islands from Ventura or Oxnard, both of which are around 60 miles north of Los Angeles. In 2019, more than 400,000 people made the trek to the national park.
As you may expect, given that the park is comprised of islands and that the waters around the park are a marine sanctuary, Channel Islands is well-known as a spot for watching dolphins and different whale species.
The average cost of a house in California is a staggering $700,828. If you’d like to live in a temperate year-round climate and enjoy whale and dolphin watching, you’ll need to take a look at Avalon, the only incorporated city on nearby Santa Catalina Island. That’s because you’ll only pay about 13 percent more than the average cost of a house in California, Outforia explains. The average cost of a house in Avalon is $791,577
You can find all of Channel Islands coverage here.
10. Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii
Haleakala National Park extends from the 10,023-foot summit of Haleakala, Maui’s highest peak, all the way down to the island’s coast near the town of Hana. By the way, the volcano Haleakala makes up approximately 75 percent of Maui and the park encompasses more than 30,000 acres.
Nearly a million people visited the park in 2019, and a must-see attraction for many is the sunrise from Haleakala Crater. In fact, because so many people want to see the sunrise from that vantage point, the National Park Service had to institute a reservation system to limit crowd size and traffic congestion.
The average price of a house in Hawaii is $743,125. In Hana, however, which is just about 30 miles away, the average price of a house is $808,273. As Outforia’s research notes, that’s a relative bargain at less than 9 percent more than the state average.
You can find all of our Haleakala coverage here.
If the average cost of houses near the parks listed above has given you a bit of sticker shock, don’t worry because there is an alternative. Instead, check out the 10 Most Affordable Places To Live Near U.S. National Parks.
As long as you’re thinking about living near a national park, be sure to check out all of our U.S. national park coverage.