There are 63 national parks in the USA covering areas of 29 different states. The majority of national parks are in California (9), followed by Alaska (8), Utah (5), and Colorado (4). The oldest national park is Yellowstone, established in 1872, while the newest national parks are Indiana Dunes and White Sands. Both are inscribed in 2019 and the newest one being New River Gorge National Park was inscribed in 2021.
Fourteen national parks are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 21 national parks are on the list of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, while eight of them belong to both UNESCO groups.
The busiest US National park is Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina with more than 11 million visitors per year.
The following guide presents a list of all US national parks ordered by each state. You will also find a US national parks map at the end for easier navigation.
Table of Contents
US National Parks By State
American National parks belong to 29 different states, some of them covering an area of two or more states. The largest number of national parks are in the Western US, followed by Southwestern US. The Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast have the smallest number of natural areas designated national parks. Here is a list of national parks by the state in alphabetical order.
Alaska National Parks (8)
Denali National Park and Preserve
The national park centers around Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America, over 6000 meters tall. The park inscribed in 1917 accepts over 500 000 visitors a year. Besides the awe-inspiring mountain, the park is unique for being home to hundreds of animal and plant species. A single road passes through the park of which the big part is allowed for buses only. Regarding activities, summer months allow hiking, cycling, rafting, fishing, and exploring wildlife while winters are reserved for winter sports.
Katmai National Park and Preserve
The National Park and Preserve Katmai is located on the Alaskan peninsula and centered around the stratovolcano Mount Katmai. The park was inscribed in 1980 after its main feature, Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, was already protected as a national monument. Each year, the park receives about 40 000 visitors. The park is also notable for being a natural habitat of salmon and brown bears. Therefore, among fishing and exploring wildlife, visitors can enjoy hiking and kayaking. Since the park doesn’t have good road connections, we recommend booking the organized tours in advance.
Glacier Bay National Park
National Park Glacier Bay is unique for its magnificent glaciers and mountains for which the park became a part of both the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve list. The park is established in 1980, each year receiving more than 500 000 visitors. Most of them arrive on cruise ships as a part of organized excursions. Moreover, the park offers numerous activities such as hiking, camping, kayaking, rafting, fishing, bird-watching, and many more. Visitors can try hunting and trapping as well, but with permits and licenses.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords are the Arctic treasure established as a national park in 1980. This Alaskan park consists of a constantly changing terrain of fjords and glacier valleys. There is only one road in the park at the end of which is the Exit Glacier, a popular destination. The area abounds in wildlife, so visitors get the chance to meet otters, seals, bears, moose, whales, and more. Hiking, climbing, and kayaking are just some of the activities on offer. Each year, the park receives more than 300 000 visitors.
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
Gates of the Arctic is the northernmost and the second-largest national park in the USA. As the name reveals it, the park lies north of the Arctic Circle. It was established in 1980 and today receives about 10 000 visitors annually. The reason is the inaccessibility to the park as it has no roads and visitors need to schedule flights in advance or hike the challenging route to reach the park. However, most visitors enjoy the remoteness of the park and join guided tours. Activities on offer include winter sports, fishing, rafting, and hiking.
Kobuk Valley National Park
National Park Kobuk Valley is a national park located in the Arctic Circle, established in 1980. The park is unique for its dunes and the most notable sight in the park is the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes which covers the southern bank of the Kobuk River. The area is pure wilderness with no trails, roads, or villages. Visitors can enjoy the wildlife as nearly 500 000 animals are passing through the park during their migration. Besides, activities include fishing, hiking, dog sledding, and more. The park visits around 15 000 people per year.
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
Lake Clark is a national park established in 1980, being unique for its stunning wilderness and numerous activities on offer. The area consists of glaciers, volcanoes, rivers, mountains, and the largest lake in Alaska. The park is accessible by boat or aircraft, no roads are leading to the park. The park has about 15 000 visitors per year of which most of them are experienced backpackers and anglers. Besides hiking and camping, visitors can try fishing, paddling, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, or simply explore the wildlife.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
Wrangell-St. Elias is considered the largest national park in the USA and it belongs to both UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site lists. The park was established in 1980 with around 80 000 visitors per year. Its main features include massive glaciers and high mountain peaks, 9 of them being among the 16 highest peaks in the country. The mountain after which the park got its name, St. Elias, is the second-highest in the USA. Visitors can explore the old mining towns and enjoy plenty of activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, and much more.
American Samoa National Parks (1)
National Park of American Samoa
The National Park of American Samoa covers three islands in the US territory of American Samoa – Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū. This is the only national park in the USA that is located south of the equator. The area is known for its tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Visitors can reach the park by plane from Pago Pago, the capital city. It is, by all means, unique and exotic, from rich culture to awe-inspiring nature that includes sandy beaches, volcanoes, and more. Each year, the park visits about 30 000 visitors on average.
Arizona National Parks (3)
Grand Canyon National Park
One of the greatest natural wonders and attractions is located in northwestern Arizona. Grand Canyon National Park is centered around the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River. The park was established in 1919 and it is the second most visited park in the USA with around 5 million visitors each year. It is also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is popular for its colorful layers of rocks that reveal millions of years of geological history. It is divided into the South Rim and North Rim and each side offers its own activities with hiking being the most popular.
Petrified Forest National Park
National Park Petrified Forest is an area of unique petrified wood, fossils, and other historic structures. The park was established in 1962 and consists of steppe and badlands. Once, the area was covered with lush vegetation, but the volcano eruption destroyed the vegetation. Today, visitors can hike through the breathtaking terrain, meet animals and enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities. Each year, the park visits more than 500 000 visitors.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro is a national park divided into two districts – The Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District. The park is covered in dense saguaro cactus forest after which it got its name. These cacti can reach 50 meters in height and live for more than 200 years. The best way to explore the park is by hiking or cycling through it as there is over 260 km of trails. Besides that, visitors can discover cactus gardens and diverse wildlife or try horseback riding. The park was established in 1994 with around a million visitors each year.
Arkansas National Parks (1)
Hot Springs National Park
As the name reveals it, Hot Springs National Park consists of thermal springs which is why visiting bathhouses is the top attraction for visitors. Hot Springs was designated as a national park in 1921 and there are over 1.5 million visitors each year. The park is adjacent to the city of Hot Springs, home to former president Bill Clinton. Besides enjoying the benefits of mineral springs, visitors can explore the park by hiking some of the numerous trails.
California National Parks (9)
Joshua Tree National Park
The Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most recognizable natural sites with the symbol of Mojave Desert, Yucca brevifolia, commonly known as Joshua tree. The park was established in 1994 and annually receives about 3 million visitors. The area is divided into two deserts, the higher Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert. Besides admiring the desert landscape, visitors can enjoy exciting activities in the park. There are dozens of trails for beginners and experienced hikers and bikers, but also horseback riders.
Channel Islands National Park
The national park consists of five of eight Channel Islands located along the Santa Barbara Channel – Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Rosa. All eight islands belong to the list of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the park itself was established in 1980. Each year, there are more than 300 000 visitors who enjoy hiking and numerous water sports on offer. The islands are accessible by plane or boat and both require arrangements in advance.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is a national park covered in streams, sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, and giant cliffs. This natural wonder was established as a national park in 1980 and today attracts more than 4 million visitors on average per year. Moreover, the park is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites with 95% of it being a pure wilderness. Therefore, hiking is the best way to explore the surroundings. The park is open all year-round, so each season offers diverse activities. Awe-inspiring cliffs are perfect for climbing while mountains are ideal for skiing in winter.
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon is the national park known for its large sequoia groves, resembling the Yosemite National Park. Established in 1890, the park is contiguous with Sequoia National Park. The park is divided into two areas – Grant Grove and Cedar Grove. One of the most popular sights in the park is the General Grant Tree located in Grant Grove. Many trails are leading to different points of interest, so hiking is the best way to explore the area. Besides that, camping and horseback riding are also the top activities visitors enjoy. Each year, more than 600 000 people visit the park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
The national park’s main feature is the Lassen Peak or Mount Lassen, the largest plug dome volcano in the world. This means that the volcano is growing from layers of its own lava. This park is very much alive with its thermal springs and bubbling muds attracting about 500 000 visitors a year. The park was established in 1916 after the two of its sites were proclaimed a national monument. Hiking through the area is the best way to get around, but you can expect dark skies and a lot of precipitation.
Pinnacles National Park
National Park Pinnacles is a mountainous area in Central California established in 2013. The terrain consists of cliffs, cave formations, and other rock structures. The park’s signature animal is the California condor, an extremely endangered bird. Scanning the skies to spot this magnificent animal is just some of the activities the park offers. Hiking, rock climbing, and cave exploring are just a few to name. Each year, more than 200 000 people visit the park.
Redwood National Park
National Park Redwood is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The park was established in 1968 today receiving about 500 000 visitors a year. The area is home to the tallest and some of the oldest trees in the world, the coast redwood. There is over 300 km of trails suitable for hiking, cycling, or horseback riding. Visitors can also discover the Fern Canyon, featured in a popular scene from the movie Jurassic Park 2.
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia NP is home to some of the tallest trees in the world and a continuation of the Kings Canyon National Park. The terrain is covered in a forest of the giant sequoia tree which listed the park on the list of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The park was established in 1980 and currently receives about a million visitors per year. There are many attractions in the park and hiking is the best way to explore them. Besides that, visitors can enjoy fishing, camping, or learning about sequoias in a Giant Forest Museum.
Death Valley National Park
National Park Death Valley is an area shared by the states of California and Nevada. The park features deserts, valleys, and mountains and is considered one of the largest, driest, and hottest as well as the lowest national parks in the USA. It was established as a national park in 1994 and today it has around 1.5 million visitors per year. Besides being a natural wonder, the park was a mining center for decades. Visitors can explore the park in multiple ways, from regular hiking and biking to four-wheel driving and mountain biking.
Colorado National Parks (4)
Rocky Mountain National Park
The national park covers the area of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. It consists of lakes and more than 100 mountain peaks reaching over 3000 meters in height. The park was established in 1915 attracting more than 4 million visitors nowadays per year. They can explore true wildlife here and encounter numerous animals such as deer and chipmunks. Sightseeing is possible by hiking, driving, or horseback riding.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
The park is located in western Colorado and was established in 1999. The area is recognizable for its dramatic and diverse landscape consisting of deep, dark canyons and gorges contrasting the mountains. Visitors can enjoy hiking through the lush forests and climbing the cliffs. The two most popular routes that guarantee some incredible views are South Rim Road and North Rim Road. No wonder that more than 300 000 visitors come to the park each year.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
As the name reveals it, this national park features a large area of dunes that reach over 200 meters in height. The park was established in 2004 after being designated a national monument for over 60 years already. Each year, the park is visited by more than 500 000 visitors who come to enjoy hiking through the scenic nature. There are over 20 campsites in the park and backpacking is also an attractive thing to do here. One of the most breathtaking sights appears at night when the entire Milky Way is visible in the sky.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde is both a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in southwestern Colorado. The park was established in 1906 and today it receives about 500 000 visitors annually. The area is important as it protects the largest and one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the USA, Ancestral Puebloan. These structures tell stories about the rich American culture and visitors can explore them via organized tours.
Florida National Parks (3)
Everglades National Park
National Park Everglades is the largest tropical wilderness in the USA and the only one of three locations that are also on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, and Wetlands of National Importance. NP Everglades is also the third-largest national park in the USA receiving a national park status in 1934. The area is highly important and unique for its ecosystem. Moreover, 36 threatened or protected species live in the park. There are two seasons in the Everglades, the wet one and the dry one. Accordingly, prepare for the invasion of mosquitoes in the summertime.
Biscayne National Park
NP Biscayne consists of the Biscayne Bay and its barrier reefs. The park is 95% water that hides numerous stories of human history. The national park status was established in 1980 and since then, visitors can enjoy a variety of water sports such as fishing, diving, snorkeling, canoeing, and kayaking. The Maritime Heritage Trail is also accessible via scuba diving or snorkeling and it is a great opportunity to discover the remains of shipwrecks, some of them over a century old.
Dry Tortugas National Park
NP Dry Tortugas is located west of Key West in Florida and boasts pristine waters, amazing scenery, and plenty of activities. It was established in 1935 receiving about 50 000 visitors per year. The park is actually a cluster of seven islands and the most popular sight is Fort Jefferson, one of the largest coastal forts in the world. Besides enjoying the numerous watersports, visitors can enjoy birdwatching of some exotic species. The national park is accessible by seaplane and boat.
Hawaii National Parks (2)
Haleakala National Park
Haleakala is a national park with a dormant volcano located on the island of Maui. The name in Hawaiian literally means House of Sun. The park was established in 1961 and receives more than a million visitors per year. It is possible to hike up to the top of the volcano in about two hours. Haleakala is a national park with the most endangered species living within its boundaries than in any other national park in the USA. Exploring wildlife along with stargazing and watching the sunrise and sunset are the most attractive activities in the park.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
National Park Hawaii Volcanoes features Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and Muna Loa, the most massive shield volcano in the world. The park was established in 1916 and today attracts more than a million visitors who come to see the awe-inspiring nature. The park was designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve. Most of the park is designated wilderness, so hiking and wildlife exploring is beyond exciting.
Idaho National Parks (1)
Yellowstone National Park
The first American national park is located in the Western US and it is shared between the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established in 1872 and today receives more than 4 million visitors per year. The most popular features of the park are the Old Faithful Geyser and Grand Prismatic Spring. The area consists of canyons, rivers, and lakes of which Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America. It is also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Illinois National Parks (1)
Gateway Arch National Park
The park is formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, but in 2018 its name was changed to Gateway Arch. Established in 2018, it is among the youngest national parks in the USA. The park instantly received more than 2 million visitors. The park features the Gateway Arch, also known as the “Gateway to the West” which is the tallest structure in Missouri. Visitors can also visit the Old Courthouse and a museum underneath the arch. The best way to enjoy the park is to cycle or walk along the pathways in the park.
Indiana National Parks (1)
Indiana Dunes National Park
The Indiana Dunes is one of the newest national parks in the USA, established in 2019. The first year the park opened for the public, it received more than 2 million visitors. The park covers the southern shore of Lake Michigan offering a sandy beach, dunes, rivers, forests, and rich wildlife of which many species are rare, threatened, or endangered. There is over 80 km of trails visitors can explore along with plenty of other outdoor activities and events.
Kentucky National Parks (1)
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth cave is the longest cave system in the world, established as a national park in 1941. The park is designated both a UNESCO Site and Biosphere Reserve. Visitors can enjoy exploring a whole new world beneath, as well as try hiking, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, and more. Besides the impressive cave system, the area consists of valleys, hills, and rich animal and plant life. Each year, the park receives about 500 000 visitors.
Maine National Parks (1)
Acadia National Park
National Park Acadia is an area best known as the most beautiful fall foliage thanks to its colorful forest. The park was established in 1929 after its parts had already been proclaimed a national monument. The park receives about 3.5 million visitors each year who come to enjoy the beautiful scenery by hiking numerous trails. The Cadillac Mountain is one of the most attractive summits with the best sunrise and sunset. The park encompasses half of Mount Desert Island, so visitors can enjoy the long sandy beach ideal for picnics.
Michigan National Parks (1)
Isle Royale National Park
National Park Isle Royale consists of the largest island Isle Royale and over 200 smaller islands. It was established in 1940 and later designated both a UNESCO Site and Biosphere Reserve. There is over 260 km of hiking trails explored by 25 000 visitors per year. Being located in the middle of Lake Superior, the park is accessible by ferry or seaplane. However, pets and vehicles are not allowed in the park.
Minnesota National Parks (1)
Voyageurs National Park
National Park Voyageurs has a French name because it commemorates the first European settlers who passed through this area. The national park was established in 1975 and it has about 200 000 visitors each year. More than one-third of the park is water which is why it is a notable destination for all who enjoy kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and sailing. The park is accessible by boat or snowmobile during the winter months.
Missouri National Parks (1)
Gateway Arch National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Missouri and Illinois.
Montana National Parks (2)
Glacier National Park
The national park is located on the border with Canada and it was established in 1910. The area consists of forests, meadows, waterfalls, over 100 lakes, and around 50 glaciers. The park is also home to thousands of different animal and plant species. Each year, more than 3 million visitors come to enjoy the park and its outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, biking, fishing, boating, horseback riding, and skiing in winter.
Yellowstone National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
Nevada National Parks (2)
Great Basin National Park
National Park Great Basin is one of the least visited national parks in the USA so one of the biggest advantages of visiting this park is – there are no crowds. The park was established in 1986 with around 130 000 visitors each year. The park is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts as it offers plenty of activities and attractions. One of the most popular sites is the Lehman Caves, a unique cave system that you can visit via organized tours. Hikers can hike through several trails in the park, one of the leading all the way to the top of Wheeler Peak.
Death Valley National Park
*The park is shared between the states of California and Nevada.
New Mexico National Parks (2)
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
National Park Carlsbad Caverns is notable as it features one of the most famous cave systems in the world. It includes one of the most famous and largest limestone chambers named Big Room. The park was established in 1930, today receiving about 400 000 visitors. Besides the caves, the park features the Guadalupe Mountains ideal for hiking and climbing. Two-thirds of the park is designated wilderness.
White Sands National Park
As the name reveals it, National Park White Sands features a large area of white dunes. Moreover, the park is the largest gypsum field in the world. It was established by the end of 2019 as the newest national park in the USA. Regardless of that, the park instantly received about 600 000 visitors. The area offers a lot of exciting activities throughout the year including exploring wildlife, hiking, sledding, and more.
North Dakota National Parks (1)
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The national park was named after US President Theodore Roosevelt and it was established in 1978. Around 700 000 people visit the park each year to admire the rugged landscape consisting of layered canyons and unique rock formations. Visitors can hike through the park or drive through the scenic nature. Also, the park offers horseback riding, camping, and wildlife exploring.
North Carolina National Parks (1)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
National Park Great Smoky Mountains are divided by the states of North Carolina and Tennessee. The park features The Great Smoky Mountains and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains with some of the highest peaks in North America. It was established in 1925 and later it was designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. The national park is the most visited in the USA receiving more than 12 million visitors a year.
Ohio National Parks (1)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
The national park is notable for preserving the rural landscape along the Cuyahoga River. The park was established in 2000 with about 2 million visitors each year. Several trails are leading through the park and its main attractions that include the Brandywine Falls, Virginia Kendall Ledges, or the picturesque Towpath Trail. Besides hiking, visitors can enjoy the historic train ride, golf, kayaking, and skiing.
South Dakota National Parks (2)
Badlands National Park
National Park Badlands features eroded buttes, pinnacles, and canyons visited by more than a million visitors each year. The park was established in 1978 and is among the youngest national parks in the USA. It was designated as a national monument for decades. The area is heaven for outdoor recreation and visitors can hike along the several paths, try camping and wildlife exploring. A big part of the park is designated wilderness and it is home to several endangered species.
Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave is the national park with the first cave designated a national park in the world. It is located north of Hot Springs and it was established in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt. This is also one of the oldest national parks in the USA with unique calcite formations in the cave. Visitors can go for a hike and explore the rich wildlife, try horseback riding, and camping in nature.
Tennessee National Parks (1)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
*The park is shared between the states of North Carolina and Tennessee.
Texas National Parks (2)
Big Bend National Park
Located in West Mexico, Big Bend National Park is the most notable for encompassing the area of the Chihuahuan Desert. The park furthermore consists of a mountain range Chisos and river gorges. The area is unique for its sea fossils, dinosaur bones, and volcanic dikes. The park was established in 1944 and today it receives about 400 000 visitors annually. Activities that await in the park include hiking, backpacking, birdwatching, and boating.
Guadalupe National Park
The national park got its name after the Guadalupe Mountains that feature the highest peak in Texas, Guadalupe Peak. The park was established in 1972 receiving about 100 000 visitors in the last years. The best way to experience the park is to visit it for a few days so that you can dedicate some time to the visitor center and the famous McKittrick Canyon. Trails are available for hiking and exploring wildlife that includes plenty of species.
Utah National Parks (5)
Arches National Park
As the name suggests, Arches National Park got its name after its more than 2000 natural sandstone arches scattered all over the park. One of the best-known arches is Delicate Arch, the most presented sight of the park. This ever-changing landscape, thanks to the winds, was established in 1971 as a national park and today receive about 1.5 million visitors a year. Activities in the park include hiking, biking, rock climbing, camping, and more.
Bryce Canyon National Park
The national park’s main feature is the Bryce Canyon which is actually not a canyon but a collection of natural amphitheaters. The park was established in 1928 as an impressive site that includes unique geological structures such as hoodoos. Each year, about 2 million visitors arrive at the park to enjoy hiking, camping, stargazing, horseback riding, and winter sports such as skiing and snowshoeing.
Canyonlands National Park
The colorful landscape of Canyonlands National Park features deep canyons, buttes, and mesas cut by the Colorado River. The park was established in 1964 by President Lyndon Johnson. Canyonlands is divided into four districts – the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers Green and Colorado. There are about 700 000 visitors in the park each year enjoying numerous activities such as hiking and mountain biking.
Capitol Reef National Parks
Established in 1971, Capitol Reef National Park gets over a million visitors a year. The impressive landscape consists of desert, colorful canyons, buttes, and ridges. Hiking is available via several trails, as well as backpacking. There are over 70 well-equipped and primitive campsites for an overnight stay. Another attractive activity is the scenic drive through the park since most of the stunning locations can be seen from the road.
Zion National Park
National Park Zion is one of the newest national parks in the USA established in 2019. The park instantly received nearly 4.5 million passengers. The park features reddish canyons, remarkable trails, and exciting activities. Visitors can hike the park’s most popular routes such as Angels Landing, Weeping Rock, and Emerald Pools Trails. Those looking for an active holiday can try horseback riding, canyoneering, camping, and more.
Virgin Islands National Parks (1)
Virgin Islands National Park
This park covers an area of the state of the Virgin Islands, 60% of it being the island of Saint John. It was established in 1956 and today receives around 100 000 visitors per year. The area is a dreamy combination of tropical forests and stunning, sandy beaches. Other attractions include coral reefs and other natural sites which can be explored by hiking, diving, and many other exciting activities.
Virginia National Parks (1)
Shenandoah National Park
The national park was established in 1935 consisting of a big part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River, and Piedmont Virginia Hills, the highest peak being the Hawksbill Mountain. Nearly 40% of the park is designated a wilderness that visitors can explore driving or hiking. The most popular routes are Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail. Besides hiking, popular activities include horseback riding, cycling, and camping.
West Virginia National Parks (1)
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
The newest US national park was established at the beginning of 2021. New River Gorge, located in West Virginia was upgraded after it was established as a national river since 1978. The park features the Appalachian Mountains and is important for its cultural and natural history. The most popular activity is whitewater rafting, along with hiking and climbing.
Washington National Parks (3)
Mount Rainier National Park
The park was established in 1899 as one of the first national parks in the USA. The park was named after Mount Rainier, an active volcano that rises as the most recognizable site of the area. About 1.5 million visitors come to the park each year to enjoy hiking, climbing, camping, skiing, and other outdoor activities and park attractions throughout all the seasons.
North Cascades National Park
The national park is the third-largest national park of the North Cascades National Park Complex. It was established in 1968 and about 30 000 visitors come to the park each year. The park is a true wilderness consisting of the majestic snow-capped mountains, lakes, meadows, and over 300 glaciers. Hiking, biking, camping, and skiing are just a few of the most popular activities visitors enjoy in the park.
Olympic National Park
National Park Olympic covers an area of the Olympic Peninsula. The park was established in 1938, later designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve. More than 3 million visitors come to the park each year. They all get to enjoy the mountains, rainforests, and the coast. Besides regular hiking, other interesting activities include fishing, skiing, camping, and backpacking.
Wyoming National Parks (2)
Grand Teton National Park
The national park is named after Grand Teton, the highest mountain in the park. It was established in 1929, located only around 15 km from Yellowstone National Park, together making up the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The park is visited by almost 3.5 million visitors each year. They all tend to enjoy wildlife viewing, hiking, biking, and all sorts of water sports.
Yellowstone National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.
US National Parks By Size
The total size of all national parks in the USA is around 52 million acres (over 200 km2). About 8.3 million acres belong to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, the largest national park in the USA. The list of top 10 largest national parks in the USA includes even 7 national parks in Alaska and 3 national parks from the lower 48 states.
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (Alaska)
- Gates of the Arctic National Park (Alaska)
- Denali National Park (Alaska)
- Katmai National Park (Alaska)
- Lake Clark National Park (Alaska)
- Death Valley National Park (California)
- Glacier Bay National Park (Alaska)
- Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho)
- Kobuk Valley National Park (Alaska)
- Everglades National Park (Florida)
Entrance to National Parks
There are over 2000 federal recreational parks and sites in the USA that you can visit. Most of them charge entrance fees, up to around $25 (~€20). All these sites, including the official 62 national parks can be visited with America the Beautiful Pass. A small portion of the national parks can be visited for free anytime.
There are different types of passes but the regular annual pass costs $80 (~€93). This is a perfect idea if staying in the USA for a longer period of time and deciding to visit more locations during your stay. The pass includes not only access to any national park but also covers standard amenity fees for drivers and passengers in a personal vehicle who use areas where vehicle fees apply.
Visitors can purchase the pass online or in-person at a federal recreation site or national park.
Other types of passes include Annual 4th Grade Pass, Senior Pass, Access Pass (US citizens only), and Volunteer Pass.
Every year, there are also fee-free days as well as a National Park Week when visiting any of the national parks in the USA is possible for free. The fee-free days are announced on the official website at the beginning of every year, so you can plan your trip. National Park Week usually takes place in April.
Map of USA National Parks
National Parks FAQ
Currently, there are in total 62 national parks in the USA.
The oldest national park in the USA is Yellowstone, established in 1872. It is followed by Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park, both established in 1890.
The newest US national parks are Indiana Dunes and White Sands inscribed in 2019 and New River Gorge National Park inscribed in 2021.
According to the number of visitors, the most visited US National park is Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina with around 11 million visitors per year.
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska is the least visited US national park with just a little over 10 000 visitors per year.
According to the statistics, Grand Canyon National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Shenandoah National Park appear to be the most dangerous US national parks
There are 20 US states without national parks: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
Most national parks are in California which has 9 of them.