How Many National Parks are There in the US?
Overview of the National Park System
The National Park System of the United States is a network of protected areas that are managed by the National Park Service (NPS). The system comprises 423 units, including national parks, monuments, historic sites, seashores, and recreation areas, among others. The purpose of the National Park System is to preserve significant natural and cultural resources for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of present and future generations.
The National Park System was created by an act of Congress in 1916, and since then, it has grown to include sites in every state and territory of the United States. The National Park Service is responsible for managing these sites, ensuring that they are preserved in a way that maintains their natural and cultural value while also making them accessible to the public.
Visitors to the National Park System can enjoy a wide range of activities, including hiking, camping, wildlife watching, historical tours, and more. The National Park System is a testament to the beauty and diversity of the natural and cultural resources of the United States, and it is a source of pride for the American people.
The Number of National Parks in the US
As of September 2021, there are 63 national parks in the United States. These parks are spread across 29 states and two territories, covering a total area of over 84 million acres. Each national park is unique and offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the United States.
The first national park in the United States was Yellowstone National Park, which was established in 1872. Since then, the number of national parks has grown steadily, with new parks being added to the system on a regular basis. The most recent addition to the national park system was New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, which was designated as a national park in December 2020.
Some of the most popular national parks in the United States include Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks. These parks attract millions of visitors each year and offer a wide range of activities, from hiking and camping to wildlife watching and scenic drives.
The national parks of the United States are a treasured resource, providing opportunities for people to connect with nature and learn about the history and culture of the country.
Popular National Parks to Visit
There are several national parks in the United States that are particularly popular among visitors. These parks offer stunning natural scenery, unique wildlife, and a range of activities for visitors of all ages. Here are some of the most popular national parks in the US:
Yellowstone National Park – Located primarily in Wyoming, Yellowstone is the oldest national park in the US and is known for its geysers, hot springs, and wildlife, including bears, wolves, and bison.
Grand Canyon National Park – Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a massive, mile-deep gorge carved by the Colorado River. It is known for its stunning vistas and hiking trails.
Yosemite National Park – Located in California, Yosemite is known for its towering granite cliffs, waterfalls, and giant sequoia trees.
Zion National Park – Located in Utah, Zion is known for its stunning red rock formations and hiking trails, including the popular Angels Landing trail.
Acadia National Park – Located in Maine, Acadia is known for its rugged coastline, rocky beaches, and hiking trails, including the popular Cadillac Mountain trail.
Visiting these national parks is an unforgettable experience and a great way to connect with the natural beauty of the United States.
Lesser-known National Parks to Explore
While the popular national parks in the US are certainly worth a visit, there are also many lesser-known parks that offer stunning scenery and unique experiences. Here are some of the lesser-known national parks in the US that are worth exploring:
Congaree National Park – Located in South Carolina, Congaree is known for its old-growth hardwood forest, hiking trails, and kayaking on the Congaree River.
Isle Royale National Park – Located in Michigan, Isle Royale is a remote wilderness area that is accessible only by boat or seaplane. It is known for its hiking trails, wildlife, and stunning scenery.
Great Basin National Park – Located in Nevada, Great Basin is known for its dark night skies, ancient bristlecone pine trees, and Lehman Caves.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Located in North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt is known for its badlands scenery, wildlife, and the historic Maltese Cross Cabin, where President Theodore Roosevelt once lived.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park – Located in Texas, Guadalupe Mountains is known for its rugged mountains, hiking trails, and stunning desert scenery.
These lesser-known national parks offer a chance to experience the natural beauty and unique features of the United States without the crowds that are often found in the more popular parks.
The Importance of Preserving National Parks
The national parks of the United States are not only beautiful and unique, but they are also important for preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the country. Here are some reasons why it is important to preserve national parks:
Conservation of natural resources – National parks are designed to protect and preserve natural resources such as forests, wildlife, and waterways. Preserving these resources helps to maintain the ecological balance and prevent species from becoming extinct.
Education and research – National parks provide opportunities for education and research in areas such as ecology, geology, and history. They also offer visitors a chance to learn about the natural and cultural heritage of the country.
Economic benefits – National parks generate economic benefits for local communities by attracting visitors who spend money on lodging, food, and activities. In addition, national parks create jobs in areas such as tourism and park management.
Recreation and tourism – National parks provide opportunities for outdoor recreation such as hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. They also attract millions of tourists each year, who come to experience the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the United States.
Cultural heritage – Many national parks in the United States have significant cultural and historical value, including sites that are sacred to indigenous people or that commemorate important events in American history.
Preserving national parks is essential for maintaining the natural and cultural heritage of the United States and ensuring that future generations can enjoy these beautiful and unique resources.