The best national park webcams can transport visitors from their computers right to the edge of the Grand Canyon, the volcanoes of Hawaii, Alaskan streams full of bears, and the gator-infested waters of the Everglades. The 61 official entities in the U.S. national park system have so much to offer those looking for nature and wildlife.
I had planned to make this the ultimate list of every national park webcam in existence. But then I went to view some of those webcams and realized that more than half of them simply do not work anymore. Whether it’s due to budget cuts or the sequester or lack of manpower, the national parks simply don’t make their webcams a priority, so when they go down, they typically aren’t fixed very fast.
As a result, this list is shorter than it could be. But by the same token, it’s an up-to-date collection of webcams that are functioning as of September 2019. So instead of going on a wild goose chase by clicking random links on the NPS’s official list of webcams, just scroll down to see links to the NPS webcams that are working properly. Come along on this virtual national park tour!
National Park Webcams: Wildlife & Park Views
This first section lists the webcams that provide the most exciting views of wildlife and other park features. These are the best NPS webcams in our estimation.
Katmai (Brooks Falls)
Brooks Falls is where bears gather to eat salmon in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. More than 100 bears descend on this one-mile stretch of river. On a recent Saturday, I tuned in and watched no fewer than eight bears in the water waiting patiently for a fish feast. A couple snagged fish in their mouths as the video continued. For seeing live wildlife action, this webcam is one of your best bets.
Katmai webcam: http://explore.org/#!/live-cams/player/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls
Yellowstone (Old Faithful)
Watch the famous Old Faithful geyser blow its top every 91 minutes. Don’t expect a front row seat, because the webcam is way off in the distance. However, this cam actually appears to have a human behind it, because the view will periodically move and zoom to focus in on other geothermal activity in the area. There are 8 other webcams in Yellowstone, though they also show still images refreshed every 30 seconds, rather than live streams. The other cams include Roosevelt Arch, Mammoth Hot Springs, and the southern view from my favorite Yellowstone hiking spot, Mount Washburn.
Yellowstone Old Faithful webcam: http://www.nps.gov/features/yell/live/live4.htm
Channel Islands (Underwater)
This overlooked national park off the California coast near Los Angeles consists of islands and ocean water. Channel Islands offers a really cool underwater webcam in the middle of a kelp forest! Sadly, as of this writing the webcam is down for technical difficulties. But maybe it will be operational again once you read this.
Channel Islands webcam: https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/photosmultimedia/ocean-webcam.htm
Channel Islands (Bald Eagles)
Here’s another Channel Islands streaming cam. This one is positioned just above a bald eagle nest. So you can watch an eagle family come and go above Sauces Canyon. How cool!
Channel Islands eagle webcam: https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/photosmultimedia/bald-eagle-webcam.htm
Yosemite (Yosemite Falls)
Check out the tallest waterfall in North America! There’s not too much to see, just the steady flow of water and some trees blowing in the wind. You can also view webcams for other notable spots in Yosemite: El Capitan, Half Dome, and High Sierra. The Falls webcam streams live, while the others refresh only once every 30 seconds.
Yosemite Falls webcam: http://www.yosemiteconservancy.org/webcams/yosemite-falls
I like to think I’m knowledgeable about all the national parks, but I know little about Capital Reef. It gets overshadowed by those other famous parks in Utah. But when it comes to webcams, Capital Reef has one of the best. It takes a still image every 10 minutes, but the real fun comes when you press Play and see all the images from the past hour, day, week or month (your choice) played back in time-lapse fashion.
Capital Reef webcam: http://timecam.tv/view_archive.aspx?C=56FDAFMIE35A
Everglades (Anhinga Trail)
The Anhinga Trail is perhaps the best place to see alligators in the Everglades. The NPS smartly set up a webcam right on the trail. Unfortunately, this webcam appears to no longer stream video, and instead just sends out still images about once every 30 minutes. Not too exciting, but you might see some gators if you’re lucky.
Everglades webcam: http://www.video-monitoring.com/everglades/royalpalm/
Hawaii Volcanoes (Mauna Loa)
The webcams in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park provide panoramic views that gives viewers a wider range of sight than most of the other NPS webcams. Still, there’s not a lot going on at the summits of these volcanoes, aside from an occasional belch of thermal steam. Mauna Loa sometimes gets snow in the winter months, though, so that’s something to look forward to.
Mauna Loa webcam: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/panorama.php?cam=MLcam
Kilauea webcam: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/cams/panorama.php?cam=KIcam
Glacier (Lake McDonald)
For national park webcam excitement, Glacier National Park may be the very best. The park has a whopping 19 NPS webcams as of this writing, showing everything from Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan pass to Many Glacier. Click here to see the entire list of Glacier streams.
Glacier webcam: https://www.nps.gov/customcf/webcam/dsp_webcam_image.cfm?id=81B4690A-1DD8-B71B-0B2D069E1CB02E6A
Isle Royale (Mott Island)
The awesome island national park in Michigan called Isle Royale has two webcams, one at Mott Island and one at Tobin Harbor. Both aren’t truly webcams because they don’t provide streams. Instead, they send out still images. But only when there’s enough sunlight for the solar-powered cam to function!
Isle Royale webcam: https://www.nps.gov/customcf/webcam/dsp_webcam_image.cfm?id=81B46B25-1DD8-B71B-0B8518C0DCFC4473
NPS Webcams: Air Quality / Scenic Webcams
The majority of national park webcams are known as “Air Quality” webcams. These are cams that show distant shots of scenery in parks. They’re mainly used to monitor air quality and determine whether a park is foggy or smoky. You can’t really see much with these webcams, but we’re listing them here for the sake of completeness and because some of them do have decent views.
Grand Canyon (Yavapai Point)
This one shows you the beauty of the Grand Canyon, although it presents refreshed still images rather than a constant stream. On the plus side, the webcam provides detailed info such as air temperature, visibility, winds, air pollution levels, and more. It’s situated at the Yavapai Museum of Geology on the South Rim, so you’ll see landscape images more than wildlife.
Grand Canyon webcam: http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/grcacam/grcacam.cfm#
Acadia (McFarland Hill)
Acadia National Park sits along the rocky coastline of Maine. This small webcam provides a view from McFarland Hill looking east.
Acadia webcam: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/air/webcams.htm?site=acad
Smoky Mountains (Purchase Knob)
Like the Grand Canyon cam, the Great Smoky Mountains webcam does not provide streaming video but instead simply updates with new still photos every few minutes. So it’s probably not the best webcam to follow, unless you love staring endlessly at pics of green forests.
Smoky Mountains webcam: http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/grsmpkcam/grsmpkcam.cfm
Joshua Tree has some incredible things to see and do, but you wouldn’t know it from this still cam, which only provides a distant shot of the mountains. This is an “air quality” webcam, so it’s just meant to show the visibility of the sky.
Joshua Tree webcam: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/air/webcams.htm?site=jotr
Theodore Roosevelt (Painted Canyon)
North Dakota’s only national park has a webcam showing the impressive view of Painted Canyon. As of this writing, the webcam is down for maintenance. Hopefully, it’ll be back soon.
Theodore Roosevelt webcam: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/air/webcams.htm?site=thro
Denali (Wonder Lake)
Alaska’a Denali NP ranks as the third largest national park in the USA. This webcam is cool because during the summer, it stays light in Alaska until very late at night. So even past midnight on the east coast, there’s plenty of daylight left to see the view from Wonder Lake on this cam.
Denali webcam: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/air/webcams.htm?site=dena
Do you ever watch national park webcams?