Whether you love to run or need some motivation to train, signing up for one of these National Park half marathons is an excellent idea.
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Signing up for a race can provide great motivation – it gives us something to train for and work toward and sets a timeline for achieving our goals.
Make a “runcation” out of your race by choosing one of these U.S. National Park Half Marathons. You will be running in a beautiful destination, and you can plan a whole trip around your race – a win-win!
I rounded up all of the top United States National Park Half Marathons I could find – check out the epic list below, and add your favorites to your race bucket list!
25 Incredible U.S. National Park Half Marathons
All of the races listed below are either in or just outside one of the 63 U.S. National Parks.
Races are listed in order of calendar date.
1. Death Valley Half Marathon
Inyo County, CA
February – next race early February 2025
The Death Valley Half Marathon is an out-and-back course. Runners will make their way through the desert on a paved highway through the heart of Death Valley National Park. The course also takes runners on a dirt road through scenic Mustard Valley. The course is pretty flat with less than 500 feet of elevation change throughout.
Although Death Valley is known for its extreme heat, February is typically quite pleasant with mild average temperatures (lows in the 40s, highs in the low 70s).
The event is limited to just 300 total participants, so sign up early if you want to run this race!
There is also a Death Valley Trail Half Marathon/Marathon that is held in December.
2. Everglades Half Marathon
February – cancelled for 2024 🙁
The Everglades Half Marathon is a very flat, loop course. The race starts and ends on the beautiful grounds of a local winery. The course includes both paved and dirt roads.
Part of the race runs along a canal that borders Everglades National Park, and runners have a good chance of spotting alligators as they run alongside the canal!
3. Saguaro Half Marathon
February – next race 2/24/24
The Saguaro Half Marathon leads you through the Sonoran Desert past large Saguaro cacti and plenty of other vegetation and wildlife. The race is considered difficult and is a combination of road and trail running. There will be some changes made to this loop course for 2023 to make the trail portions of the race a bit less technical.
4. Canyonlands Half Marathon & 5 Mile
March – next race 3/16/24
The name of this race is slightly deceiving as the race does not take place in Canyonlands National Park but is close by in Moab, Utah. There is a half marathon and a 5-mile race option.
The Canyonlands Half Marathon starts at Sandy Beach, a boat launch site next to the Colorado River. Racers will be treated to red rock canyon and river views as they run toward Moab Valley. The race finishes at Lions Park, which is adjacent to Arches National Park.
5. Zion National Park Half Marathon
March – next race 3/2/24
There are actually 2 different half-marathons hosted by Vacation Races near Zion National Park.
The Zion Half Marathon (March 2, 2024) is a paved point-to-point race that takes runners steadily uphill along the highway toward Zion Canyon. Runners finish in the charming town of Springdale just outside the entrance to Zion National Park.
The Zion Trail Half Marathon (April 14, 2024) follows the same course as the Zion at Night Half Marathon, but you will be able to see the beautiful views during the daylight hours! This event also has a 100-mile race, 100K, and 50K in addition to the half marathon.
6. St. Louis Arch Half Marathon
St. Louis, MO
April – next race 4/27/24
Running a race is a great way to see and experience a city in a unique way. The St. Louis Half Marathon takes runners through historic urban neighborhoods, into Forest Park, and finishes downtown near Gateway Arch National Park.
The event has full marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, and children’s fun run race options.
7. Shenandoah Park-to-Park Half Marathon
Stuarts Draft, VA & Waynesboro, VA
Late April – next race 4/27/24
The Park-to-Park Half Marathon takes runners along a point-to-point course through the Shenandoah Valley.
Racers will travel from the town of Stuarts Draft down country roads, past farmland and streams, to the city of Waynesboro outside of Shenandoah National Park.
8. Redwood Marathon/Half Marathon/10K
Late April/Early May – next race 5/5/24
The Avenue of the Giants Marathon, Half Marathon, & 10K takes place in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which is about 75 miles from Redwood National Park, but you could still visit both parks if you make a “runcation” out of the race!
The course is out-and-back and follows the Avenue of the Giants (a paved highway) for the entirety of the race. The course starts out flat and then becomes hillier and more challenging.
Racers will run among towering redwoods and will catch glimpses of surrounding mountains.
Humboldt Redwoods Marathon & Half Marathon is another race that takes place in the state park in October (run among the fall colors!).
9. Yosemite Half Marathon
Bass Lake, Ca
May – next race 5/11/24
The Yosemite Half Marathon is a fast course, with the majority of the trail being flat or downhill – nice! The course is point-to-point and includes both dirt trails and pavement portions.
Racers run through the Sierra National Forrest, just outside Yosemite National Park, and finish with a loop around beautiful Bass Lake.
10. Grand Teton Half Marathon
June – next race 6/1/24
The Grand Teton Half Marathon is a point-to-point flat course along a paved road outside the entrance of Grand Teton National Park. A portion of the trail is on a packed dirt road. The finish line offers incredible views of the Grand Teton range.
Runners will be treated to snow-capped mountain views, crisp fresh air, and possibly even some wildlife sightings! There is a half marathon, 5K, and fun run option for this event.
11. Acadia Half Marathon/10K
Bar Harbor, ME
June – next race 6/2/24
The Acadia Half Marathon and 10K races are hosted by the Mount Desert Island YMCA. The event is one of the youth program’s largest fundraisers.
The course takes runners along the scenic loop road in Acadia National Park. Racers are treated to breathtaking views of the National Park and the rocky coastline.
12. Yellowstone Half Marathon
West Yellowstone, Mt
June – next race 6/8/24
Runners will have a challenge with the Yellowstone Half Marathon, as it is a dirt path that can be rocky, somewhat uneven, and muddy if it has rained recently. There are also a couple of tough hills on the course.
The course is a loop course and is just a mile from the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park. There is a half marathon and a 5K option for this event.
13. Glacier Half Marathon
June – next race 6/29/24
Runners will feel a strong sense of accomplishment after completing the Glacier Half Marathon! The course is point-to-point and takes runners along a paved road outside of Glacier National Park.
The high elevation, as well as a 900ft, 5-mile climb at the beginning of the race. Runners are then treated to stunning views of Glacier National Park and a 5-mile downhill section of the course. After a few more ups and downs, the race finishes on the front lawn of Glacier Park Lodge.
An absolutely stunning course that is worth the challenge!
14. Bryce Canyon Half Marathon
July – next race 7/2024
The Bryce Canyon Half Marathon starts in the town of Bryce just outside of the National Park at Ruby’s Inn. The course then takes runners onto National Scenic Byway 12, through Bryce Canyon National Park, through the town of Tropic, and then ends in the town of Cannonville.
The course is point-to-point and is flat or downhill for basically the whole race. Starting elevation is 7,652 ft, and the ending elevation is 5,800 ft. In addition to the half marathon, there is also a 5K run/walk option.
15. Mount Ranier Half Marathon
July – next race 7/20/24
The Mount Ranier Half Marathon is a very scenic course with incredible views of Mount Ranier throughout the race. The course is a loop and includes varying terrain (dirt road and pavement) and hills.
Racers will run through peaceful forests, past wildflowers and ferns, and over streams and rivers. This event offers both half marathon and 5K race options.
16. Rocky Mountain Half Marathon/5K
Estes Park, co
July – next race 8/3/24
The Rocky Mountain Half Marathon is a paved road loop course just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. It starts and ends by a lake at the fairgrounds in Estes Park. The course is scenic with stunning mountain views, but it is challenging.
Racers can choose to run the half marathon, 5K race, or the Elk Double, which is a half marathon + 5K (16.2 miles).
17. Crater Lake Rim Run
Crater Lake National Park, OR
August – next race 8/10/24
The Crater Lake Rim Run has 3 running event options -a 6.7-mile race, a 13-mile race, or a marathon (26.2 miles).
All of the courses run along paved roads around the rim of majestic Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park. The last 4 miles of the full marathon are on a packed dirt road. All of the courses are pretty hilly with elevation loss/gain of nearly 1,000 feet at a time.
Weather is typically favorable during August with temperatures usually between 55-75 degrees throughout the race.
18. Great Smoky Mountains Half Marathon
September – next race 9/7/24
Next in our lineup of National Park Half Marathons is the Great Smoky Mountains Race. A 13.1-mile, point-to-point, paved road course, this route has a total ascent of 727 feet, making it only slightly uphill throughout.
The course is open to car traffic during the race, so racers will be running alongside vehicles. The race course is located outside of the National Park.
19. Olympic Adventure Trail Half Marathon
Port Angeles, WA
September – next race 9/7/24
The Great Olympic Adventure Trail (GOAT) Run takes runners along Kelly Ridge outside of Olympic National Park.
The course winds through lush green forests filled with moss, ferns, flowers, and towering trees. Runners finish at beautiful Lake Crescent inside the National Park.
The course is a point-to-point trail run, and racers can choose from a marathon, half marathon, or 50K option.
20. Arches Half Marathon
October – next race 10/5/24
The Arches Half Marathon was previously a road race but was converted to a trail event in 2021. The new course takes racers past stunning red rock formations and views of the La Sal Mountains.
The course follows the Behind the Rocks Trail, which is made up of dirt roads, slick rock, and sandy washes, making it a fun challenge!
The event has a marathon, half marathon, and a 15K option. Although the event is named after Arches National Park, the course is about 20 miles from the actual park.
21. Cuyahoga Valley Marathon/Half Marathon/10K
October – next race October 2024
The Towpath Trilogy features 3 race length options – marathon, half marathon, and 10K.
The courses begin in Canal Basin Park and follow the Towpath Trail toward Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The full marathon finishes in the National Park.
The courses are paved and racers will run under trees with stunning autumn colors throughout the race.
22. Indiana Dunes Duneland Half Marathon/5K
October – next race October 2024
The Duneland Half Marathon & 5K race starting line is about 5 miles from Indiana Dunes National Park.
The race starts and ends at Dogwood Park and the majority of the course follows the Duneland bike trail.
23. Grand Canyon Trail Half Marathon
GraND cANYON vILLAGE, az
November – next race 11/2/24
The Grand Canyon Half Marathon is a trail race through the Kaibab National Forest, just south of the Grand Canyon South Rim.
The course offers beautiful scenery and challenging terrain and elevation gain.
Runners can choose from half marathon or 5K options. The event is open to both runners and walkers.
24. Joshua Tree Half Marathon
Joshua tree, CA
November – next race 11/2/24
The Joshua Tree Half Marathon is a one-of-a-kind race. Runners must wear headlamps, as this is a night race along a sandy/dirt road trail. The course is challenging with loose terrain, soft deep sand, and darkness.
Racers will run through sunset and will finish the race under the stars. The course starts and ends in Joshua Tree, CA about 20 minutes from the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.
The race website admits that the course isn’t the most scenic, but the night sky, stars, and Joshua trees along the course make it beautiful.
25. Hot Springs Half Marathon/10K/5K/1K
Hot springs, AR
November – next race 11/9/24
The Spa Running Festival offers a little something for everyone. From a kids’ 1K race to a flat and fast 5K course, to more challenging 10K and half marathon courses.
The half marathon takes runners through Hot Springs National Park, going summit to summit on Hot Springs Mountain and West Mountain.
Gear Recommendations for National Park Half Marathons
Running Shoes or Trail Shoes
- The type of shoes you wear for your race will vary based on the type of terrain you will encounter. Some National Park Half Marathons take runners on dirt roads, through sand, or along rocky trails, so it is important to be prepared.
- Whether you decide to go with regular running shoes or trail shoes, make sure you train in the shoes you plan to wear for the race so that you are comfortable in them and they are broken in before the big day!
- My favorite running shoes are the Brooks Glycerin. They are supportive and so cushiony! But they are pretty heavy, so not the best option if you like a lightweight shoe.
- I know shopping online is easier, but I really recommend going to some type of running shoe store to get fitted and test out shoes so that you can find some that are perfect for you.
- Taking care of your feet is essential when training and racing. It is important to wear quality socks to avoid blisters and keep those feet comfortable! I like wearing thick Nike socks or these trail socks– they are more of a splurge, but they are worth it.
- If you are running a trail race, consider getting a pair of trail gaiters. Trail gaiters give you the protection of a hiking boot while still allowing you to maintain the comfort and maneuverability that comes with trail running shoes.
Running Belt or Trail Pack
- If you want to bring fuel (food, bars, gels), your phone, headphones, a headlamp, or any other gear along with you during your race, you will need something to carry it all in while you run. The FlipBelt runner fanny pack is a great option because it is comfortable to run with, and it holds a lot without being big or bulky. A running armband is a good option if you are only wanting to bring your phone.
- Races typically have food/hydration stations throughout the course, but I think it is important to have your own hydration source that you carry along with you as well. A handheld running bottle is one option.
- I prefer the CamelBak Hydration Pack because it is a hands-free option and it is super easy to use while moving.
Final Tips for Your National Park Race
- Make sure you are prepared for the terrain you will encounter during your race. If you are running a trail race, make sure to hit some trails with similar terrain during your training and ensure that you have the proper gear.
- Follow a training plan to gradually increase mileage. This will help to avoid injury and make sure you are ready to go on race day. I like the Hal Higdon training plans.
- Vacation Races also offers training plans – they are free and are tailored to specific National Park Half Marathons.
Plan Ahead for Lodging
- Research the area before signing up for the race. Some National Parks are very remote and do not have many accommodation options available. For this reason, lodging can sometimes fill up months or even a year in advance. Make sure to choose lodging that will be convenient for you on the morning of the race.
I hope you enjoyed this list of National Park Half Marathons!
I would love to try every single one of these races, but the ones at the top of my bucket list are the Glacier Half Marathon, Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, and Crater Lake Rim Run.
Which races are you most excited about?