A national park is a protected area that is designated by a government to preserve its natural, cultural, or historical significance. The criteria for designating a national park may vary from country to country, but they generally involve considerations such as ecological value, biodiversity, cultural heritage, and recreational opportunities.
In the United States, there are currently 61 national parks. These parks are managed by the National Park Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Some of the most famous national parks in the United States include Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park.
Worldwide, there are over 6,000 national parks in more than 100 countries. These parks cover a wide range of ecosystems and landscapes, from tropical rainforests to arctic tundra. Some notable examples of national parks around the world include Banff National Park in Canada, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia.
A complete list of all 61 U.S national parks
Here is a complete list of all 61 national parks in the United States:
|Park Name||State(s)||Size (Acres)||Year Established|
|Yellowstone||Wyoming, Montana, Idaho||2,219,790||1872|
|Wind Cave||South Dakota||33,970||1903|
|Carlsbad Caverns||New Mexico||46,766||1930|
|Great Smoky Mountains||North Carolina, Tennessee||522,426||1934|
|Virgin Islands||U.S. Virgin Islands||15,052||1956|
|Theodore Roosevelt||North Dakota||70,446||1978|
|Gates of the Arctic||Alaska||7,523,897||1980|
|American Samoa||American Samoa||8,256||1988|
|Death Valley||California, Nevada||3,408,395||1994|
|Black Canyon of the Gunnison||Colorado||30,779||1999|
|Great Sand Dunes||Colorado||107,345||2004|
|White Sands||New Mexico||146,344||2019|
|New River Gorge||West Virginia||7,021||2020|
The Criteria for Designating National Parks
The criteria for designating a national park can vary depending on the country and the specific legislation in place. In the United States, the process for creating a national park begins with a proposal from either the President or a member of Congress. The proposal is then reviewed by the National Park Service, which conducts a thorough evaluation of the area’s natural, cultural, and historical significance.
To be designated as a national park in the United States, an area must meet certain criteria. For example, it must possess exceptional natural beauty, have unique geological features, or contain significant ecological or biological resources. Additionally, the area must provide opportunities for public enjoyment and recreation, as well as have cultural or historical significance. Finally, it needs to be deemed a place where establishing a national park is feasible.
Once an area is deemed worthy of national park status, it must be approved by Congress and signed into law by the President. This process can take several years and involves extensive public input and consultation with stakeholders.
The Most Visited National Parks in the United States
The United States is home to some of the most visited national parks in the world. These parks attract millions of visitors each year, who come to experience their natural beauty and explore their diverse landscapes.
Here is a list of the top 10 most visited national parks in the United States:
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Located on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. It offers stunning mountain vistas, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife.
Visitors in 2022: 12.9 Million (source)
2. Grand Canyon National Park – One of the most iconic natural landmarks in the world, the Grand Canyon attracts visitors from around the globe. Its vast size and breathtaking beauty make it a must-see destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Visitors: 4.7 million
3. Zion National Park – Located in southern Utah, Zion National Park is renowned for its towering sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and scenic hiking trails. It is a paradise for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers.
Visitors: 4.7 million
4. Rocky Mountain National Park – Situated in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is known for its towering peaks, alpine lakes, and diverse wildlife. It offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
Visitors: 4.3 million
5. Acadia National Park – Located on the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia National Park offers stunning ocean views, rocky shorelines, and lush forests. It is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and wildlife watching.
Visitors: 3.9 Million
6. Yosemite National Park – Yosemite National Park is famous for its towering granite cliffs, majestic waterfalls, and ancient giant sequoias. It offers a wide range of recreational activities, including hiking, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing.
Visitors: 3.7 Million
7. Yellowstone National Park – The first national park in the United States, Yellowstone is a true natural wonderland. It is home to the famous Old Faithful geyser, as well as a diverse array of wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison.
Visitors: 3.3 Million
8. Joshua Tree National Park – Located in Southern California, this otherworldly park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering an array of activities such as rock climbing, hiking through hidden oases, stargazing under clear night skies, and immersing oneself in the serene beauty of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. With its surreal blend of desert flora, including the iconic Joshua Tree, this park beckons visitors to explore its natural wonders and find solace in its striking and often otherworldly landscapes.
Visitors: 3 Million
9. Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Near Cleveland, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a lush and picturesque oasis nestled between the urban centers of Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. This 33,000-acre park showcases a diverse landscape of rolling hills, serene forests, cascading waterfalls, and the winding Cuyahoga River, offering visitors a tranquil escape into nature’s embrace.
Visitors: 2.9 Million
10. Glacier National Park – Situated in Montana, Glacier National Park is known for its stunning glaciers, pristine lakes, and rugged mountain landscapes. It offers a range of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
Visitors: 2.9 Million
National Parks Around the World: How many national parks on earth?
National parks are not unique to the United States; they exist in countries all around the world. These parks play a crucial role in preserving biodiversity, protecting natural habitats, and promoting sustainable tourism.
There are currently over 6,500 national parks worldwide, covering more than 1.5 million square kilometers of land and sea. These parks can be found in more than 100 countries and encompass a wide range of ecosystems and landscapes.
Some notable examples of national parks around the world include:
– Banff National Park in Canada: Located in the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is known for its stunning mountain scenery, turquoise lakes, and abundant wildlife. It is Canada’s oldest national park and attracts millions of visitors each year.
– Serengeti National Park in Tanzania: One of Africa’s most famous national parks, the Serengeti is home to the annual wildebeest migration, as well as a diverse array of wildlife, including lions, elephants, and giraffes. It offers unparalleled opportunities for wildlife viewing and safari adventures.
– Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in Australia: The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world and is home to an incredible diversity of marine life. The marine park protects this fragile ecosystem and offers visitors the chance to snorkel, dive, and explore its vibrant underwater world.
– Torres del Paine National Park in Chile: Located in the Patagonia region of Chile, Torres del Paine National Park is known for its towering granite peaks, pristine lakes, and vast glaciers. It offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.