If you have been wondering how many national parks are there in the US we have the answers for you. Including National Parks, Historic Sites, Monuments, and more!
How Many National Parks are There?
As of March 2022, there are 424 US National Park sites in the United States. The newest national park site is the Amache National Historic Site in Colorado. This site was designated on March 18, 2022, by President Biden.
There are 63 designated National Parks in the United States. These are the large parks you most likely think of first including Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, and so many more.
There is even a National Park of American Samoa and Virgin Islands National Park for a more tropical experience.
While these 63 National Parks get a lot of attention and focus there are so many other amazing parks that have natural beauty, historic significance, and may just surprise you.
It is worth noting that there are 20 different National Park designations within the National Park System. The 423 National Park sites include National Historic Sites, National Historical Parks, National Seashores, National Monuments, National Military Parks, National Memorials, National Recreation Areas, National Rivers, National Lakeshores, National Parkways, National Reserves, and more.
The National Park System protects more than 85 million acres of land in the United States.
In 2020 there were more than 237 million visitors to park sites.
What was the first National Park?
One of the most frequent questions we hear is "what was the first national park in the United States?"
The answer is Yellowstone National Park!
Yellowstone National Park was established by an act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, as the nation's first national park.
What is the newest National Park in the United States?
The newest National Park in the United States is New River Gorge National Park. This West Virginia National Park was designated a National Park in December 2020.
White Sands National Monument became White Sands National Park in December 2019 making it the 62nd national park Site.
What is a National Park
A National Park contains a variety of resources and encompasses large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources.
There has been some contention over a few National Park designations including Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. This park preserves and protects the hot springs and water resources of the park.
Another park that people are upset over is Gateway Arch National Park. There is a lot of questions on what resources this Missouri National Park protects.
You may see some parks listed as National Park and Preserves. These designations mean a couple of things. A National Preserve has different rules and regulations from a National Park.
For the most part, these parks count as 2 parks towards the total count of 423 National Park Service sites. There are a few that only count as 1 park because why make math easy.
Which state has the most National Parks?
California wins with 28 National Park Service sites including 9 full National Park Sites.
Alaska has 24 National Park Service sites with 8 full National Park Sites.
Utah has 13 National Park Service sites with 5 full National Park Sites.
Check out this list of national parks by state for more info.
What is the largest National Park in the United States?
The largest National Park in the United States by landmass is Wrangell St Elias National Park in Alaska.
Wrangell St. Elias NP is over 8.3 million acres and was established in December 1980.
To give a bit of perspective on how big Wrangell St Elias is it would take six Yellowstone NP to fill Wrangell St. Elias.
The 2nd largest National Park site is Gates of the Arctic with 8,500,000 acres followed by Denali NP with over 6 million acres.
What is the Smallest National Park?
The smallest national park in the United States is Gateway Arch NP in St. Louis, Missouri. This park is only 0.14 square miles (91 acres).
Hot Springs National Park is the 2nd smallest National Park in the United States with only 5,549 acres which is 8.6 square miles of land. The 3rd smallest national park site is the National Park of American Samoa with only 10,520 acres
The smallest overall site in the National Park Service is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania that is only 0.02 acres
What is the most visited National Park?
The most visited National Park Site in 2021 was the Blue Ridge Parkway with over 14 million visitors.
Great Smoky Mountain National Park was the National Park with the most visitors with over 14 million visitors.
Three parks had more than 10 million recreation visits: Blue Ridge Parkway, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
60 parks had more than one million recreation visits (15% of reporting parks), which is down from 80 parks in 2019.
Check out all of the most visited national parks in the United States.
What is the least visited National Park?
The least visited National Park Site in 2020 was Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska.
One thing about visitation numbers in 2020 is there were multiple closures within the National Park Service system. These closures had a huge impact on the number of visitors that were able to visit a park.
2020 had the least visitation for the parks since
Check out all of the least visited national parks in the United States.
Does every state have a National Park?
Not every state has a designated National Park but they do have a national park site.
Delaware has one National Park Service Site the First State National Historical Park.
What is a National Park Service Affiliated Area?
You may see parks listed as being an affiliate of the National Park Service. These sites are under the NPS umbrella but not counted towards the 423 National Park Sites in the United States.
There are currently 25 affiliated areas including Oklahoma City National Memorial, Aleutian World War II National Historic Area in Alaska, Chicago Portage National Historic Site in Illinois, and Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Nebraska near Scotts Bluff National Monument.
Which country has the most National Parks?
Australia has the most National Parks with 685 National Parks.
Thailand has 147 national parks followed by India with 116 National Parks.
Where to buy National Park Pass?
You can buy National Park Passes at most park sites that charge an admission fee. You can also purchase a pass online.
There are multiple types of US National Park Passes including America the Beautiful Pass, Senior Pass, Military Annual Pass, Disabled Access Pass, and more.
Are dogs allowed in National Parks?
Yes, but there are rules that need to be followed. Not all National Park Service Sites allow dogs or animals in order to protect wildlife and natural resources.
If you plan to bring a pet with you to a National Park Service site please make sure that you check each individual site to make sure they allow pets/dogs in the park.
Can you Hunt in National Parks?
There are 75 designated places within the National Park Service that allow hunting. Of these, there are 66 that have permitted hunting and 7 areas in Alaska that offer sustenance hunting.
Badlands National Park only allows tribal hunting while Grand Teton National Park offers elk hunting as part of controlled elk reductions with the state of Wyoming.
A total of 51,097,000 acres managed by the National Park Service are open to hunting at various times during the year, representing approximately 60% of the total acreage of the National Park Service system.
Who created the National Park System?
Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act in 1916 which created the National Park Service. This act established the NPS to protect the then 35 national parks and monuments.
The National Park Service was created as a new federal bureau under the Department of Interior.
In 1933 an executive order transferred 56 national monuments and military sites from the Forest Service and the War Department to the National Park Service. This action helped to expand the National Park Service and start it on the road to what it has become today.
When was the National Park Service Created?
The National Park Service was created on August 25, 1916, when Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act.
The Organic Act established the National Park Service within the Department of Interior.
"Organic Act" states that "the Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations…by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life 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."
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