When Yellowstone National Park was founded as the first national park in the United States in 1872, a brand new concept of conservation parks was born. These U.S. national parks were the very first that both protected a valuable landscape, habitat or ecosystem and allowed people to enjoy nature to its fullest. The second-oldest still-existing national park is Royal National Park in Australia, founded in 1879. Another country that was involved in the conservation movement for the very beginning is Canada. The U.S.'s northern neighbor established Banff National Park in 1885 and the world's first national park service in 1911. Clearly, the English-speaking world was a conservation pioneer. As a result, these countries still reap the rewards from their visionary worldview, these parks being major tourist magnets.

Nowadays, there are 59 U.S. national parks, spread across the entire country, from Maine to Florida and from Alaska to Hawaii and California. Designed to protect, conserve and preserve a certain area's wildlife, ecosystems and landscapes, national parks also give visitors the opportunity to get to know and explore that particular area in greater detail. All the national parks in America are open to the public, although a couple of them are quite a challenge to get to. They offer a plethora of outdoor activities to enjoy, which include hiking, camping, wildlife watching and rock climbing. I'm on a mission to visit each and every one of them and, so far, I've made it to eighteen.

U.S. National Parks List

This U.S. national parks list includes all 59 national parks in America. It provides a clear overview of each park and its location, annual visitors, size (in both square miles and square kilometers), year it was established, whether or not it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its key features. The parks with a photo are those that I've visited so far.

NamePlaceAnnual Visitors (2016)Size (mi²)Size (km²)YearWorld Heritage SiteFeaturesPhoto
AcadiaMaine3,303,39376.6198.51919NoRocky coasts, granite mountains, carriage roads, lakes, pine forests and wildlife.Bass Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park, Maine
American SamoaAmerican Samoa28,89212.933.41988No
ArchesUtah1,585,718119.8310.31971NoRock arches and other formations such as fins, balanced rocks and pinnacles.Landscape Arch in Arches National Park, Utah
BadlandsSouth Dakota996,263379.3982.41978No
Big BendTexas388,2901,251.83,242.21944No
Black Canyon of the GunnisonColorado238,01848.0124.41999No
Bryce CanyonUtah2,365,11056.0145.01928NoHundreds of hoodoos and other red rock formations in a natural amphitheater.Thor's Hammer in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
CanyonlandsUtah776,218527.51,366.21964NoSprawling landscape of canyons, mesas and buttes, cliffs, arches and rivers, night skies.Green River Overlook, Island in the Sky attractions, Canyonlands National Park
Capitol ReefUtah1,064,904378.0979.01971NoSandstone domes, arches and buttes, slot canyons, historic Mormon homesteads.Barn in Fruita, Capitol Reef National Park
Carlsbad CavernsNew Mexico466,77373.1189.31930Yes
Channel IslandsCalifornia364,807389.91,009.91980NoFive Atlantic Ocean islands, incredible biodiversity, marine life, historic sites, wildflowers.Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California
CongareeSouth Carolina143,84341.0106.32003No
Crater LakeOregon756,344286.3741.51902No
Cuyahoga ValleyOhio2,423,39050.9131.82000NoBrandywine Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Death ValleyCalifornia1,296,2835,270.413,650.31994NoLowest, driest and hottest place in North America, salt flats, badlands, mountains, night skies and historic sites.Hiking trail in the badlands, Death Valley National Park
Dry TortugasFlorida73,661101.1261.81992No
Gates of the ArcticAlaska10,04711,756.130,448.11980No
Glacier BayAlaska520,1715,036.513,044.61980Yes
Grand CanyonArizona5,969,8111,877.64,862.91919YesVast canyons, mesas, rivers, multicolored geological layers, night skies and wildlife.Yucca, Grand Canyon National Park
Grand TetonWyoming3,270,076484.41,254.71929No
Great BasinNevada144,846120.6312.31986No
Great Sand DunesColorado388,308167.7434.42004NoTallest sand dunes in North America, mountains, grasslands, wetlands and streams.Sand dunes and Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colorado
Great Smoky MountainsNorth Carolina/
Guadalupe MountainsTexas181,839134.9349.51966No
Hawai'i VolcanoesHawaii1,887,580505.41,308.91916Yes
Hot SpringsArkansas1,544,3008.722.51921NoNatural hot springs, historic 19th-century bathhouses, only urban national park.Hot Water Cascade, Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Isle RoyaleMichigan24,966893.42,314.01940No
Joshua TreeCalifornia2,505,2861,235.43,199.61994NoJoshua trees, stacks of boulders, Colorado and Mojave deserts, night skies, historic gold mines.Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park, California
Kenai FjordsAlaska346,5341,046.82,711.31980No
Kings CanyonCalifornia607,479721.71,869.21940No
Kobuk ValleyAlaska15,5002,735.57,084.91980No
Lake ClarkAlaska21,1024,093.510,602.01980No
Lassen VolcanicCalifornia536,068166.6431.41916No
Mammoth CaveKentucky586,51482.5213.81941YesLongest known cave in the world, subterranean wildlife, sinkholes, rivers and springs.Dripstones, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Mesa VerdeColorado583,52782.0212.41906YesMore than 4,000 Ancestral Puebloan sites, including several large cliffs dwellings.Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Mount RainierWashington1,356,913369.3956.61899NoActive stratovolcano, 26 glaciers, wildflowers, alpine forests and meadows, pioneering sites, wildlife.Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park
North CascadesWashington28,646788.72,042.81968No
Petrified ForestArizona643,274346.0896.01962NoPetrified wood, Painted Desert, mesas, Native American sites, dinosaur fossils.Petrified wood in Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
PinnaclesCalifornia215,55541.7108.02013NoAncient volcanic field, monoliths, caves and rock pinnacles, wildlife.High Peaks Trail in Pinnacles National Park
Rocky MountainColorado4,517,585415.31,075.61915No
ShenandoahVirginia1,437,341311.2806.11935NoForests, waterfalls, wooded hollows, wildlife, scenic overlooks on Skyline Drive.Hiking the Stony Man Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Theodore RooseveltNorth Dakota753,880110.1285.11978No
Virgin IslandsU.S. Virgin Islands411,34323.460.51956No
Wind CaveSouth Dakota617,37753.1137.51903No
Wrangell-St. EliasAlaska79,04720,587.253,320.61980Yes
ZionUtah4,295,127230.0595.81919NoCanyons, cliffs and rock formations, Virgin River, hanging gardens.Zion Canyon in Zion National Park, Utah

Data used in this U.S. national parks list was sourced from the National Park Service website and Wikipedia.

Explore the National Parks of America

By Region

What follows below is another, different, overview of the national parks in America. This map shows the geographic location of each of the 59 U.S. national parks. The various colors indicate a different geographical region.

  • Orange: Alaska
  • Purple: Pacific Northwest
  • Yellow: Southwest & California
  • Pink: Hawaii
  • Green: Midwest
  • Blue: Northeast
  • Red: South
  • Gray: Overseas territories

By Park

Below, you will find an overview of the national parks in America that I've visited. This collection is ever-growing and includes some of the greatest parks in the entire world, such as Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Zion. (Note that while you can click on all pictures, they don't all direct to individual national park page quite yet. Don't worry, I'm working on it!)

Which U.S. National Parks Have You Visited? What's Your Favorite? Share Your Experiences and Tips in the Comments Below!

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