List of national parks of the United States

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1938 poster for Yellowstone National Park
Symbolic representation of visitors at each National Park

The United States has 59 protected areas known as national parks that are operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. National parks must be established by an act of the United States Congress. The first national park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Mackinac National Park in 1875 (decommissioned in 1895), and then Rock Creek Park (later merged into National Capital Parks), Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890. The Organic Act of 1916 created the National Park Service "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."[1] Many current National Parks had been previously protected as National Monuments by the President under the Antiquities Act before being upgraded by Congress. Seven national parks (including six in Alaska) are paired with a National Preserve, areas with different levels of protection that are administered together but considered separate units and whose areas are not included in the figures below.

Criteria for the selection of National Parks include natural beauty, unique geological features, unusual ecosystems, and recreational opportunities (though these criteria are not always considered together). National Monuments, on the other hand, are frequently chosen for their historical or archaeological significance.

Twenty-seven states have national parks, as do the territories of American Samoa and the United States Virgin Islands. California has the most (nine), followed by Alaska (eight), Utah (five), and Colorado (four). The largest national park is Wrangell–St. Elias in Alaska: at over 8 million acres (32,000 km2), it is larger than each of the nine smallest states. The next three largest parks are also in Alaska. The smallest park is Hot Springs, Arkansas, at less than 6 thousand acres (24 km2). The total area protected by national parks is approximately 51.9 million acres (210,000 km2), for an average of 895 thousand acres (3,620 km2) but a median of only 317 thousand acres (1,280 km2).[2] The most-visited national park is Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee, with over 11.3 million visitors in 2016, followed by Arizona's Grand Canyon, with nearly 6 million. In contrast, only 10,047 people visited the remote Gates of the Arctic in Alaska in the same year.[3] Fourteen national parks are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS),[4] while twenty one are designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.[5]

A few former national parks are no longer designated as such, or have been disbanded. Other units of the National Park Service (417 altogether) are sometimes incorrectly or broadly referred to as national parks; they are listed here.

National Parks[edit]

Name Photo Location Date established as park[2][6] Area[2] Recreation visitors (2016)[3] Description
Acadia Bass harbor head light 20041002 123635 1.1504x1000.jpg Maine
44°21′N 68°13′W / 44.35°N 68.21°W / 44.35; -68.21 (Acadia)
February 26, 1919 47,389.67 acres (191.8 km2) 3,303,393 Covering most of Mount Desert Island and other coastal islands, Acadia features the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast of the United States, granite peaks, ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes. There are freshwater, estuary, forest, and intertidal habitats.[7][8]
American Samoa Ofu Beach NPS.jpg American Samoa
14°15′S 170°41′W / 14.25°S 170.68°W / -14.25; -170.68 (National Park of American Samoa)
October 31, 1988 9,000.00 acres (36.4 km2) 28,892 The southernmost national park is on three Samoan islands and protects coral reefs, rainforests, volcanic mountains, and white beaches. The area is also home to flying foxes, brown boobies, sea turtles, and 900 species of fish.[9]
Arches Delicatearch1.jpg Utah
38°41′N 109°34′W / 38.68°N 109.57°W / 38.68; -109.57 (Arches)
November 12, 1971 76,518.98 acres (309.7 km2) 1,585,718 This site features more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the famous Delicate Arch. In a desert climate, millions of years of erosion have led to these structures, and the arid ground has life-sustaining soil crust and potholes, which serve as natural water-collecting basins. Other geologic formations are stone columns, spires, fins, and towers.[10]
Badlands BadlandsView3.jpg South Dakota
43°45′N 102°30′W / 43.75°N 102.50°W / 43.75; -102.50 (Badlands)
November 10, 1978 242,755.94 acres (982.4 km2) 996,263 The Badlands are a collection of buttes, pinnacles, spires, and grass prairies. It has the world's richest fossil beds from the Oligocene epoch, and the wildlife includes bison, bighorn sheep, black-footed ferrets, and swift foxes.[11]
Big Bend Santa Elena Canyon.jpg Texas
29°15′N 103°15′W / 29.25°N 103.25°W / 29.25; -103.25 (Big Bend)
June 12, 1944 801,163.21 acres (3,242.2 km2) 388,290 Named for the prominent bend in the Rio Grande along the US–Mexico border, this park encompasses a large and remote part of the Chihuahuan Desert. Its main attraction is backcountry recreation in the arid Chisos Mountains and in canyons along the river. A wide variety of Cretaceous and Tertiary fossils as well as cultural artifacts of Native Americans also exist within its borders.[12]
Biscayne Biscayne NP snorkeling.jpg Florida
25°39′N 80°05′W / 25.65°N 80.08°W / 25.65; -80.08 (Biscayne)
June 28, 1980 172,924.07 acres (699.8 km2) 514,709 Located in Biscayne Bay, this park at the north end of the Florida Keys has four interrelated marine ecosystems: mangrove forest, the Bay, the Keys, and coral reefs. Threatened animals include the West Indian manatee, American crocodile, various sea turtles, and peregrine falcon.[13]
Black Canyon of the Gunnison Black canyon gunnison Colorado.jpg Colorado
38°34′N 107°43′W / 38.57°N 107.72°W / 38.57; -107.72 (Black Canyon of the Gunnison)
October 21, 1999 32,950.03 acres (133.3 km2) 238,018 The park protects a quarter of the Gunnison River, which slices sheer canyon walls from dark Precambrian-era rock. The canyon features incredibly steep descents, and is a popular site for river rafting and rock climbing. The deep, narrow canyon, made of gneiss and schist, is often in shadow and therefore appears black.[14]
Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon Hoodoos Amphitheater.jpg Utah
37°34′N 112°11′W / 37.57°N 112.18°W / 37.57; -112.18 (Bryce Canyon)
February 25, 1928 35,835.08 acres (145.0 km2) 2,365,110 Bryce Canyon is a giant geological amphitheater on the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The unique area has hundreds of tall sandstone hoodoos formed by erosion. The region was originally settled by Native Americans and later by Mormon pioneers.[15]
Canyonlands Canyonlands Needles.jpg Utah
38°12′N 109°56′W / 38.2°N 109.93°W / 38.2; -109.93 (Canyonlands)
September 12, 1964 337,597.83 acres (1,366.2 km2) 776,218 This landscape was eroded into a maze of canyons, buttes, and mesas by the combined efforts of the Colorado River, Green River, and their tributaries, which divide the park into three districts. There are rock pinnacles and other naturally sculpted rock formations, as well as artifacts from Ancient Pueblo peoples.[16]
Capitol Reef Cassidy Arch, Capitol Reef National Park.JPG Utah
38°12′N 111°10′W / 38.20°N 111.17°W / 38.20; -111.17 (Capitol Reef)
December 18, 1971 241,904.26 acres (979.0 km2) 1,064,904 The park's Waterpocket Fold is a 100-mile (160 km) monocline that exhibits the earth's diverse geologic layers. Other natural features are monoliths, sandstone domes, and cliffs shaped like the United States Capitol.[17]
Carlsbad Caverns Carlsbad Interior Formations.jpg New Mexico
32°10′N 104°26′W / 32.17°N 104.44°W / 32.17; -104.44 (Carlsbad Caverns)
May 14, 1930 46,766.45 acres (189.3 km2) 466,773 Carlsbad Caverns has 117 caves, the longest of which is over 120 miles (190 km) long. The Big Room is almost 4,000 feet (1,200 m) long, and the caves are home to over 400,000 Mexican free-tailed bats and sixteen other species. Above ground are the Chihuahuan Desert and Rattlesnake Springs.[18] (WHS)
Channel Islands Channel Islands National Park.jpg California
34°01′N 119°25′W / 34.01°N 119.42°W / 34.01; -119.42 (Channel Islands)
March 5, 1980 249,561.00 acres (1,009.9 km2) 364,807 Five of the eight Channel Islands are protected, and half of the park's area is underwater. The islands have a unique Mediterranean ecosystem originally settled by the Chumash people. They are home to over 2,000 species of land plants and animals, and 145 are unique to them, including the island fox. Professional ferry services offer transportation to the islands from the mainland.[19]
Congaree Congaree swamp.jpg South Carolina
33°47′N 80°47′W / 33.78°N 80.78°W / 33.78; -80.78 (Congaree)
November 10, 2003 26,545.86 acres (107.4 km2) 143,843 On the Congaree River, this park is the largest portion of old-growth floodplain forest left in North America. Some of the trees are the tallest in the Eastern US. An elevated walkway called the Boardwalk Loop guides visitors through the swamp.[20]
Crater Lake Crater lake oregon.jpg Oregon
42°56′N 122°06′W / 42.94°N 122.1°W / 42.94; -122.1 (Crater Lake)
May 22, 1902 183,224.05 acres (741.5 km2) 756,344 Crater Lake lies in the caldera of an ancient volcano called Mount Mazama that collapsed 7,700 years ago. It is the deepest lake in the United States and is famous for its vivid blue color and water clarity. There are two more recent volcanic islands in the lake, and, with no inlets or outlets, all water comes through precipitation.[21]
Cuyahoga Valley OhioErieCanalLock.JPG Ohio
41°14′N 81°33′W / 41.24°N 81.55°W / 41.24; -81.55 (Cuyahoga Valley)
October 11, 2000 32,950 acres (133.3 km2)[22] 2,423,390 This park along the Cuyahoga River has waterfalls, hills, trails, and exhibits on early rural living. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail follows the Ohio and Erie Canal, where mules towed canal boats. The park has numerous historic homes, bridges, and structures,[23] and also offers a scenic train ride.[24]
Death Valley Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley.jpg California, Nevada
36°14′N 116°49′W / 36.24°N 116.82°W / 36.24; -116.82 (Death Valley)
October 31, 1994 3,372,401.96 acres (13,647.6 km2) 1,296,283 Death Valley is the hottest, lowest, and driest place in the United States. Daytime temperatures have topped 130 °F (54 °C) and it is home to Badwater Basin, the lowest elevation in North America. A diversity of colorful canyons, desolate badlands, shifting sand dunes, sprawling mountains, and over 1000 species of plants populate this geologic graben. Additional points of interest include salt flats, historic mines, and springs.[25]
Denali Mount McKinley and Denali National Park Road 2048px.jpg Alaska
63°20′N 150°30′W / 63.33°N 150.50°W / 63.33; -150.50 (Denali)
February 26, 1917 4,740,911.72 acres (19,185.8 km2) 587,412 Centered on Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, Denali is serviced by a single road leading to Wonder Lake. Denali and other peaks of the Alaska Range are covered with long glaciers and boreal forest. Wildlife includes grizzly bears, Dall sheep, caribou, and gray wolves.[26]
Dry Tortugas Fort-Jefferson Dry-Tortugas.jpg Florida
24°38′N 82°52′W / 24.63°N 82.87°W / 24.63; -82.87 (Dry Tortugas)
October 26, 1992 64,701.22 acres (261.8 km2) 73,661 The islands of the Dry Tortugas, at the westernmost end of the Florida Keys, are the site of Fort Jefferson, a Civil War-era fort that is the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. With most of the park being remote ocean, it is home to undisturbed coral reefs and shipwrecks and is only accessible by plane or boat.[27]
Everglades Everglades National Park cypress.jpg Florida
25°19′N 80°56′W / 25.32°N 80.93°W / 25.32; -80.93 (Everglades)
May 30, 1934 1,508,537.90 acres (6,104.8 km2) 930,907 The Everglades are the largest tropical wilderness in the United States. This mangrove and tropical rainforest ecosystem and marine estuary is home to 36 protected species, including the Florida panther, American crocodile, and West Indian manatee. Some areas have been drained and developed; restoration projects aim to restore the ecology.[28] (WHS)
Gates of the Arctic GatesofArctic.jpg Alaska
67°47′N 153°18′W / 67.78°N 153.30°W / 67.78; -153.30 (Gates of the Arctic)
December 2, 1980 7,523,897.74 acres (30,448.1 km2) 10,047 The country's northernmost park protects an expanse of pure wilderness in Alaska's Brooks Range and has no park facilities. The land is home to Alaska natives, who have relied on the land and caribou for 11,000 years.[29]
Glacier St Mary Lake - Wild goose Island.jpg Montana
48°48′N 114°00′W / 48.80°N 114.00°W / 48.80; -114.00 (Glacier)
May 11, 1910 1,013,572.41 acres (4,101.8 km2) 2,946,681 The U.S. half of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, this park hosts 26 glaciers and 130 named lakes beneath a stunning canopy of Rocky Mountain peaks. There are historic hotels and a landmark road in this region of rapidly receding glaciers. The local mountains, formed by an overthrust, expose the world's best-preserved sedimentary fossils from the Proterozoic era.[30] (WHS)
Glacier Bay GlacierBay3.jpg Alaska
58°30′N 137°00′W / 58.50°N 137.00°W / 58.50; -137.00 (Glacier Bay)
December 2, 1980 3,224,840.31 acres (13,050.5 km2) 520,171 Glacier Bay has numerous tidewater glaciers, mountains, fjords, and a temperate rainforest, and is home to large populations of grizzly bears, mountain goats, whales, seals, and eagles. When discovered in 1794 by George Vancouver, the entire bay was covered in ice, but the glaciers have since receded more than 65 miles (105 km).[31] (WHS)
Grand Canyon USA 09847 Grand Canyon Luca Galuzzi 2007.jpg Arizona
36°04′N 112°08′W / 36.06°N 112.14°W / 36.06; -112.14 (Grand Canyon)
February 26, 1919 1,217,403.32 acres (4,926.7 km2) 5,969,811 The Grand Canyon, carved by the mighty Colorado River, is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 1 mile (1.6 km) deep, and up to 15 miles (24 km) wide. Millions of years of erosion have exposed the colorful layers of the Colorado Plateau in countless mesas and canyon walls, visible from both the north and south rims, or from a number of trails that descend into the canyon itself.[32] (WHS)
Grand Teton Teton Range from Glacier View Turnout-closeup.JPG Wyoming
43°44′N 110°48′W / 43.73°N 110.80°W / 43.73; -110.80 (Grand Teton)
February 26, 1929 309,994.66 acres (1,254.5 km2) 3,270,076 Grand Teton is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The park's historic Jackson Hole and reflective piedmont lakes teem with unique wildlife and contrast with the dramatic mountains, which rise abruptly from the sage-covered valley below.[33]
Great Basin Prometheus Wheeler.jpg Nevada
38°59′N 114°18′W / 38.98°N 114.30°W / 38.98; -114.30 (Great Basin)
October 27, 1986 77,180.00 acres (312.3 km2) 144,846 Based around Nevada's second tallest mountain, Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park contains 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines, a rock glacier, and the limestone Lehman Caves. It also enjoys some of the country's darkest night skies. Animals which call the park home include Townsend's big-eared bat, pronghorn, and Bonneville cutthroat trout.[34]
Great Sand Dunes Coloradodunes.jpg Colorado
37°44′N 105°31′W / 37.73°N 105.51°W / 37.73; -105.51 (Great Sand Dunes)
September 13, 2004 42,983.74 acres (173.9 km2) 388,308 The tallest sand dunes in North America, up to 750 feet (230 m) tall, were formed by deposits of the ancient Rio Grande in the San Luis Valley. Abutting a variety of grasslands, shrublands, and wetlands, the park also has alpine lakes, six 13,000-foot mountains, and old-growth forests.[35]
Great Smoky Mountains Fall at Oconaluftee Overlook.JPG Tennessee, North Carolina
35°41′N 83°32′W / 35.68°N 83.53°W / 35.68; -83.53 (Great Smoky Mountains)
June 15, 1934 521,490.13 acres (2,110.4 km2) 11,312,786 The Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains, span a wide range of elevations, making them home to over 400 vertebrate species, 100 tree species, and 5000 plant species. Hiking is the park's main attraction, with over 800 miles (1,300 km) of trails, including 70 miles (110 km) of the Appalachian Trail. Other activities include fishing, horseback riding, and touring nearly 80 historic structures.[36] (WHS)
Guadalupe Mountains West face of Guadalupe Mountains at sunset 2006.jpg Texas
31°55′N 104°52′W / 31.92°N 104.87°W / 31.92; -104.87 (Guadalupe Mountains)
October 15, 1966 86,415.97 acres (349.7 km2) 181,839 This park boasts Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas; the scenic McKittrick Canyon filled with bigtooth maples; a corner of the arid Chihuahuan Desert; and a fossilized coral reef from the Permian era.[37]
Haleakalā Haleakala Crater.jpg Hawaii
20°43′N 156°10′W / 20.72°N 156.17°W / 20.72; -156.17 (Haleakala)
August 1, 1916 29,093.67 acres (117.7 km2) 1,263,558 The Haleakalā volcano on Maui features a very large crater with numerous cinder cones, Hosmer's Grove of alien trees, the Kipahulu section's scenic pools of freshwater fish, and the native Hawaiian goose. It is home to the greatest number of endangered species within a U.S. National Park.[38]
Hawaii Volcanoes Puu Oo cropped.jpg Hawaii
19°23′N 155°12′W / 19.38°N 155.20°W / 19.38; -155.20 (Hawaii Volcanoes)
August 1, 1916 323,431.38 acres (1,308.9 km2) 1,887,580 This park on the Big Island protects the famous Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, two of the world's most active geological features. Diverse ecosystems range from tropical forests at sea level to barren lava beds at more than 13,000 feet (4,000 m).[39] (WHS)
Hot Springs Hots Springs National Park aerial.jpg Arkansas
34°31′N 93°03′W / 34.51°N 93.05°W / 34.51; -93.05 (Hot Springs)
March 4, 1921 5,549.75 acres (22.5 km2) 1,544,300 Hot Springs was established by act of Congress as a federal reserve on April 20, 1832, as such it is the oldest park managed by the National Park Service. Congress changed the reserve's designation to National Park on March 4, 1921 after the National Park Service was established in 1916. Hot Springs is the smallest and only National Park in an urban area and is based around natural hot springs that flow out of the low lying Ouachita Mountains. The springs provide opportunities for relaxation in an historic setting; Bathhouse Row preserves numerous examples of 19th-century architecture.[40]
Isle Royale IsleRoyalePlane.jpg Michigan
48°06′N 88°33′W / 48.10°N 88.55°W / 48.10; -88.55 (Isle Royale)
April 3, 1940 571,790.11 acres (2,314.0 km2) 24,966 The largest island in Lake Superior is a place of isolation and wilderness. Along with its many shipwrecks, waterways, and hiking trails, the park also includes over 400 smaller islands within 4.5 miles (7.2 km) of its shores. There are only 20 mammal species on the entire island, though the relationship between its wolf and moose populations is especially unique.[41]
Joshua Tree Joshua Tree - Rock formation in Real Hidden Valley 1.jpg California
33°47′N 115°54′W / 33.79°N 115.90°W / 33.79; -115.90 (Joshua Tree)
October 31, 1994 789,745.47 acres (3,196.0 km2) 2,505,286 Covering large areas of the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and the Little San Bernardino Mountains, this exotic desert landscape is populated by vast stands of the famous Joshua tree. Great changes in elevation reveal starkly contrasting environments including bleached sand dunes, dry lakes, rugged mountains, and maze-like clusters of monzogranite monoliths.[42]
Katmai Brown bears brooks falls.jpg Alaska
58°30′N 155°00′W / 58.50°N 155.00°W / 58.50; -155.00 (Katmai)
December 2, 1980 3,674,529.68 acres (14,870.3 km2) 37,818 This park on the Alaska Peninsula protects the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, an ash flow formed by the 1912 eruption of Novarupta, as well as Mount Katmai. Over 2,000 grizzly bears come here each year to catch spawning salmon. Other wildlife includes caribou, wolves, moose, and wolverines.[43]
Kenai Fjords Exit Glacier Jul09.JPG Alaska
59°55′N 149°39′W / 59.92°N 149.65°W / 59.92; -149.65 (Kenai Fjords)
December 2, 1980 669,982.99 acres (2,711.3 km2) 346,534 Near Seward on the Kenai Peninsula, this park protects the Harding Icefield and at least 38 glaciers and fjords stemming from it. The only area accessible to the public by road is Exit Glacier; the rest must be viewed or reached from boat tours.[44]
Kings Canyon KingsCanyonNP.JPG California
36°48′N 118°33′W / 36.80°N 118.55°W / 36.80; -118.55 (Kings Canyon)
March 4, 1940 461,901.20 acres (1,869.2 km2) 607,479 Home to several giant sequoia groves and the General Grant Tree, the world's second largest, this park also features part of the Kings River, sculptor of the dramatic granite canyon that is its namesake, and the San Joaquin River, as well as Boyden Cave.[45]
Kobuk Valley Agie River.jpg Alaska
67°33′N 159°17′W / 67.55°N 159.28°W / 67.55; -159.28 (Kobuk Valley)
December 2, 1980 1,750,716.50 acres (7,084.9 km2) 15,500 Kobuk Valley protects 61 miles (98 km) of the Kobuk River and three regions of sand dunes. Created by glaciers, the Great Kobuk, Little Kobuk, and Hunt River Sand Dunes can reach 100 feet (30 m) high and 100 °F (38 °C), and they are the largest dunes in the Arctic. Twice a year, half a million caribou migrate through the dunes and across river bluffs that expose well-preserved ice age fossils.[46]
Lake Clark Lake Clark National Park.jpg Alaska
60°58′N 153°25′W / 60.97°N 153.42°W / 60.97; -153.42 (Lake Clark)
December 2, 1980 2,619,733.21 acres (10,601.7 km2) 21,102 The region around Lake Clark features four active volcanoes, including Mount Redoubt, as well as an abundance of rivers, glaciers, and waterfalls. Temperate rainforests, a tundra plateau, and three mountain ranges fill in the remaining landscape.[47]
Lassen Volcanic Lassen Peak from the summit of Brokeoff Mountain-1200px.jpg California
40°29′N 121°31′W / 40.49°N 121.51°W / 40.49; -121.51 (Lassen Volcanic)
August 9, 1916 106,372.36 acres (430.5 km2) 536,068 Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world, is joined by all three other types of volcanoes in this park: shield, cinder dome, and composite. Though Lassen itself last erupted in 1915, most of the rest of the park is continuously active: numerous hydrothermal features, including fumaroles, boiling pools, and bubbling mud pots, are heated by molten rock from beneath the peak.[48]
Mammoth Cave Mammoth Cave National Park 007.jpg Kentucky
37°11′N 86°06′W / 37.18°N 86.10°W / 37.18; -86.10 (Mammoth Cave)
July 1, 1941 52,830.19 acres (213.8 km2) 586,514 With more than 400 miles (640 km) of passageways explored, Mammoth Cave is by far the world's longest cave system. Subterranean wildlife includes eight bat species, Kentucky cave shrimp, Northern cavefish, and cave salamanders. Above ground, the park provides recreation on the Green River, 70 miles of hiking trails, and plenty of sinkholes and springs.[49] (WHS)
Mesa Verde Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Palace Right Part 2006 09 12.jpg Colorado
37°11′N 108°29′W / 37.18°N 108.49°W / 37.18; -108.49 (Mesa Verde)
June 29, 1906 52,121.93 acres (210.9 km2) 583,527 This area constitutes over 4,000 archaeological sites of the Ancestral Puebloan people, who lived here and elsewhere in the Four Corners region for at least 700 years. Cliff dwellings built in the 12th and 13th centuries include the famous Cliff Palace, which has 150 rooms and 23 kivas, and the Balcony House, with its many passages and tunnels.[50] (WHS)
Mount Rainier Mount Rainier from west.jpg Washington
46°51′N 121°45′W / 46.85°N 121.75°W / 46.85; -121.75 (Mount Rainier)
March 2, 1899 235,625.00 acres (953.5 km2) 1,356,913 Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano, is the most prominent peak in the Cascades, and is covered by 26 named glaciers including Carbon Glacier and Emmons Glacier, the largest in the contiguous United States. The mountain is popular for climbing, and more than half of the park is covered by subalpine and alpine forests and meadows seasonally in bloom with wildflowers. Paradise on the south slope is one of the snowiest places in the world, and the Longmire visitor center is the start of the Wonderland Trail, which encircles the mountain.[51]
North Cascades Cascade pass.jpg Washington
48°42′N 121°12′W / 48.70°N 121.20°W / 48.70; -121.20 (North Cascades)
October 2, 1968 504,780.94 acres (2,042.8 km2) 28,646 This complex encompasses two units of the national park itself as well as the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. The highly glaciated mountains are spectacular examples of Cascade geology; popular hiking and climbing areas include Cascade Pass, Mount Shuksan, Mount Triumph, and Eldorado Peak.[52]
Olympic Acer macrophyllum in Hoh Rain Forest.jpg Washington
47°58′N 123°30′W / 47.97°N 123.50°W / 47.97; -123.50 (Olympic)
June 29, 1938 922,650.86 acres (3,733.8 km2) 3,390,221 Situated on the Olympic Peninsula, this park straddles a diversity of ecosystems from Pacific shoreline to temperate rainforests to the alpine slopes of Mount Olympus. The scenic Olympic Mountains overlook the Hoh Rain Forest and Quinault Rain Forest, the wettest area in the continental United States.[53] (WHS)
Petrified Forest PAINTED DESERT BADLANDS.jpg Arizona
35°04′N 109°47′W / 35.07°N 109.78°W / 35.07; -109.78 (Petrified Forest)
December 9, 1962 93,532.57 acres (378.5 km2) 643,274 This portion of the Chinle Formation has a great concentration of 225-million-year-old petrified wood. The surrounding Painted Desert features eroded cliffs of wonderfully red-hued volcanic rock called bentonite. There are also dinosaur fossils and over 350 Native American sites.[54]
Pinnacles PinnaclesParkView.jpg California
36°29′N 121°10′W / 36.48°N 121.16°W / 36.48; -121.16 (Pinnacles)
January 10, 2013 26,605.73 acres (107.7 km2) 215,555 Named for the eroded leftovers of a portion of an extinct volcano, the park is famous for its massive black and gold monoliths of andesite and rhyolite, which are popular with rock climbers, and a hiker's paradise of quiet trails crossing scenic Coast Range wilderness. The park is home to the endangered California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) and one of the few locations in the world where these extremely rare birds can be seen in the wild. Pinnacles also supports a dense population of prairie falcons, and more than 13 species of bat which populate its talus caves.[55]
Redwood Redwood National Park, fog in the forest.jpg California
41°18′N 124°00′W / 41.30°N 124.00°W / 41.30; -124.00 (Redwood)
October 2, 1968 112,512.05 acres (455.3 km2) 536,297 This park and the co-managed state parks protect almost half of all remaining coastal redwoods, the tallest trees on earth. There are three large river systems in this very seismically active area, and 37 miles (60 km) of protected coastline reveal tide pools and seastacks. The prairie, estuary, coast, river, and forest ecosystems contain a huge variety of animal and plant species.[56] (WHS)
Rocky Mountain Bierstadt Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, USA.jpg Colorado
40°24′N 105°35′W / 40.40°N 105.58°W / 40.40; -105.58 (Rocky Mountain)
January 26, 1915 265,828.41 acres (1,075.8 km2) 4,517,585 Bisected north to south by the Continental Divide, this portion of the Rockies has ecosystems varying from over 150 riparian lakes to montane and subalpine forests to treeless alpine tundra. Wildlife including mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, and cougars inhabit its igneous mountains and glacier valleys. Longs Peak, a classic Colorado fourteener, and the scenic Bear Lake are popular destinations, as well as the famous Trail Ridge Road, which reaches an elevation of more than 12,000 feet (3,700 m).[57]
Saguaro Saguaronationalparl17102008.jpg Arizona
32°15′N 110°30′W / 32.25°N 110.50°W / 32.25; -110.50 (Saguaro)
October 14, 1994 91,439.71 acres (370.0 km2) 820,426 Split into the separate Rincon Mountain and Tucson Mountain districts, this park is evidence that the dry Sonoran Desert is still home to a great variety of life spanning six biotic communities. Beyond the namesake giant saguaro cacti, there are barrel cacti, chollas, and prickly pears, as well as lesser long-nosed bats, spotted owls, and javelinas.[58]
Sequoia Giant Forest.jpg California
36°26′N 118°41′W / 36.43°N 118.68°W / 36.43; -118.68 (Sequoia)
September 25, 1890 404,051.17 acres (1,635.1 km2) 1,254,688 This park protects the Giant Forest, which boasts some of the world's largest trees, the General Sherman being the largest in the park. It also has over 240 caves, a scenic segment of the Sierra Nevada including the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, and Moro Rock, a photogenic granite dome.[59]
Shenandoah Dark Hollow Falls Shenandoah NP 2007.jpg Virginia
38°32′N 78°21′W / 38.53°N 78.35°W / 38.53; -78.35 (Shenandoah)
May 22, 1926 199,045.23 acres (805.5 km2) 1,437,341 Shenandoah's Blue Ridge Mountains are covered by sprawling hardwood forests that teem with tens of thousands of animals. The Skyline Drive and Appalachian Trail run the entire length of this narrow park, along with more than 500 miles (800 km) of hiking trails passing scenic overlooks and cataracts of the Shenandoah River.[60]
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt National Park.jpg North Dakota
46°58′N 103°27′W / 46.97°N 103.45°W / 46.97; -103.45 (Theodore Roosevelt)
November 10, 1978 70,446.89 acres (285.1 km2) 753,880 This region that enticed and influenced President Theodore Roosevelt consists of a park of three units in the northern badlands. Besides Roosevelt's historic cabin, there are numerous scenic drives and backcountry hiking opportunities. Wildlife includes American bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and wild horses.[61]
Virgin Islands St John Trunk Bay 1.jpg United States Virgin Islands
18°20′N 64°44′W / 18.33°N 64.73°W / 18.33; -64.73 (Virgin Islands)
August 2, 1956 14,688.87 acres (59.4 km2) 411,343 The island of Saint John has rich human and natural histories. Taíno archaeological sites and ruins of sugar plantations from Columbus' time litter the coast. Past the pristine beaches are mangrove forests, seagrass beds, coral reefs, and vast algal plains.[62]
Voyageurs Voyageurs National Park.jpg Minnesota
48°30′N 92°53′W / 48.50°N 92.88°W / 48.50; -92.88 (Voyageurs)
January 8, 1971 218,200.17 acres (883.0 km2) 241,912 This park protecting four lakes near the Canada–US border is a site for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, and preserves a history populated by Ojibwe Native Americans, French fur traders called voyageurs, and ambitious gold-miners. Formed by glaciers, the region features tall bluffs, rock gardens, scenic islands and bays, and several historic buildings.[63]
Wind Cave Wind Cave lower.jpg South Dakota
43°34′N 103°29′W / 43.57°N 103.48°W / 43.57; -103.48 (Wind Cave)
January 9, 1903 28,295.03 acres (114.5 km2) 617,377 Wind Cave is distinctive for its calcite fin formations called boxwork and needle-like growths called frostwork. Additionally, it is the world's densest and most complex cave system. Above ground is a mixed-grass prairie with animals such as bison, black-footed ferrets, and prairie dogs.[64] and ponderosa pine forests home to cougars and elk. It is culturally significant to the Lakota people as the site in which their emergence story takes place.
Wrangell–​St. Elias MountJarvis.jpg Alaska
61°00′N 142°00′W / 61.00°N 142.00°W / 61.00; -142.00 (Wrangell – St. Elias)
December 2, 1980 8,323,147.59 acres (33,682.6 km2) 79,047 An immense plot of mountainous country protects the convergence of the Alaska, Chugach, and Wrangell-Saint Elias Ranges, which include many of the continent's tallest mountains and volcanoes, including the 18,008-foot Mount Saint Elias. More than a quarter of the park is covered with glaciers, including the tidewater Hubbard Glacier, piedmont Malaspina Glacier, and valley Nabesna Glacier.[65] (WHS)
Yellowstone Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin from above.jpg Wyoming, Montana, Idaho
44°36′N 110°30′W / 44.60°N 110.50°W / 44.60; -110.50 (Yellowstone)
March 1, 1872 2,219,790.71 acres (8,983.2 km2) 4,257,177 Situated on the Yellowstone Caldera, the park has an expansive network of geothermal areas including vividly colored hot springs, boiling mud pots, and regularly erupting geysers, the best-known being Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring. The yellow-hued Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River has a number of scenic waterfalls, and four mountain ranges run through the park. More than 60 mammal species including gray wolves, grizzly bears, lynxes, bison, and elk, make this park one of the best wildlife viewing spots in the country.[66] (WHS)
Yosemite YosemitePark2 amk.jpg California
37°50′N 119°30′W / 37.83°N 119.50°W / 37.83; -119.50 (Yosemite)
October 1, 1890 761,266.19 acres (3,080.7 km2) 5,028,868 Yosemite features towering granite cliffs, dramatic waterfalls, and old-growth forests at a unique intersection of geology and hydrology. Half Dome and El Capitan rise from the park's centerpiece, the glacier-carved Yosemite Valley, and from its vertical walls drop Yosemite Falls, North America's tallest waterfall. Three giant sequoia groves, along with a pristine wilderness in the heart of the Sierra Nevada, are home to an abundance of rare plant and animal species.[67] (WHS)
Zion Zion angels landing view.jpg Utah
37°18′N 113°03′W / 37.30°N 113.05°W / 37.30; -113.05 (Zion)
November 19, 1919 146,597.60 acres (593.3 km2) 4,295,127 Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert, this geological wonder has colorful sandstone canyons, mountainous mesas, and countless rock towers. Natural arches and exposed plateau formations compose a large wilderness roughly divided into four ecosystems: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest.[68]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The National Park Service Organic Act". National Park Service. 26 February 2008. Retrieved 25 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c The National Parks: Index 2009–2001 (PDF). Washington, D.C.: National Park Service. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Annual Park Ranking Report for Recreation Visitors in: 2016". National Park Service. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "World Heritage List". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  5. ^ "Europe & North America: 302 biosphere reserves in 36 countries". UNESCO. April 2016. Archived from the original on 11 April 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "National Park System Areas Listed in Chronological Order of Date Authorized under DOI" (PDF). National Park Service. 27 June 2005. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Acadia National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  8. ^ "Acadia National Park Places To Go". National Park Service. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "National Park of American Samoa". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  10. ^ "Arches National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  11. ^ "Badlands National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  12. ^ "Big Bend National Park". National Park Service. December 8, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Biscayne National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  14. ^ "Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  15. ^ "Bryce Canyon National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  16. ^ "Canyonlands National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  17. ^ "Capitol Reef National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  18. ^ "Carlsbad Caverns National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  19. ^ "Channel Islands National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  20. ^ "Congaree National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  21. ^ "Crater Lake National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  22. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park FACT SHEET" (PDF). NPS. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  23. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  24. ^ "Cuyahoga Valley National Park Scenic Railroad". National Park Service. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  25. ^ "Death Valley National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  26. ^ "Denali National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  27. ^ "Dry Tortugas National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  28. ^ "Everglades National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  29. ^ "Gates of the Arctic National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  30. ^ "Glacier National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  31. ^ "Glacier Bay National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  32. ^ "Grand Canyon National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  33. ^ "Grand Teton National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  34. ^ "Great Basin National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  35. ^ "Great Sand Dunes National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  36. ^ "Great Smoky Mountains National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  37. ^ "Guadalupe Mountains National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  38. ^ "Haleakala National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  39. ^ "Hawaii Volcanoes National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  40. ^ "Hot Springs National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  41. ^ "Isle Royale National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  42. ^ "Joshua Tree National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  43. ^ "Katmai National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  44. ^ "Kenai Fjords National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  45. ^ "Kings Canyon National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  46. ^ "Kobuk Valley National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  47. ^ "Lake Clark National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  48. ^ "Lassen Volcanic National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  49. ^ "Mammoth Cave National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  50. ^ "Mesa Verde National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  51. ^ "Mount Rainier National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  52. ^ "North Cascades National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  53. ^ "Olympic National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  54. ^ "Petrified Forest National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  55. ^ "Pinnacles National Monument". National Park Service. January 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  56. ^ "Redwood National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  57. ^ "Rocky Mountain National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  58. ^ "Saguaro National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  59. ^ "Sequoia National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  60. ^ "Shenandoah National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  61. ^ "Theodore Roosevelt National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  62. ^ "Virgin Islands National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  63. ^ "Voyageurs National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  64. ^ "Wind Cave National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  65. ^ "Wrangell – St. Elias National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  66. ^ "Yellowstone National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  67. ^ "Yosemite National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 
  68. ^ "Zion National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved 23 March 2010. 

External links[edit]