Fun National Park Facts

It’s been a goal now for the last couple years to visit five new national parks a year.  So far, it’s gone well!  And in total, I’ve been to 19 out of 59.  Not too shabby.  I’ve also been a lot more into learning about the parks.  The Switchback Kids podcast is one of my new favorite things and I always want to listen to them on our way to the parks.  I also get excited listening to the ones about the parks I’ve been to.

Now I want to share some of the fun things I’ve learned with you.  This post has been in the works for a while.  It’s taken a lot of research, but it’s been super fun working on it and learning tons of stuff about them.  There’s actually quite a few duplicates on here, but I’ve tried to include fun things about some other parks, too.  I’ll keep things to the top five so this isn’t like, 30 miles long.

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Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

Biggest parks

Wrangell St. Elias – 8,323,146.48 acres

Gates of the Arctic – 7,523,897.45 acres

Denali – 4,740,911.16 acres

Katmai – 3,674,529.33 acres

Death Valley – 3,373,063.14 acres

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Smallest parks

Hot Springs – 5,549.10 acres

American Samoa – 8,256.67 acres

Virgin Islands – 14,948.46 acres

Congaree – 26,275.82 acres

Pinnacles – 26,685.73 acres

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Most visited parks (2016)

Great Smoky Mountains – 11,312,786

Grand Canyon – 5,969,811

Yosemite – 5,028,868

Rocky Mountain – 4,517,585

Zion – 4,295,127

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Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Least visited parks (2016)

Gates of the Arctic – 10,047

Kobuk Valley – 15,500

Lake Clark – 21,102

Isle Royale – 24,966

North Cascades – 28,646

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Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash

Most remote parks

This was hard to find good information on, but what I did find tended to lean towards the same few so I just included them all.

Isle Royale

Dry Tortugas

Katmai

Gates of the Arctic

Kobuk Valley

Channel Islands

American Samoa

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Photo by Jeff King on Unsplash

Demoted National Parks

These are the parks that used to be.  They were national parks at one point and were demoted for one reason or another.

General Grant National Park 1890 – 1940 – This park was absorbed into Kings Canyon.

Platt National Park 1906 – 1976 – This park became the Chicksaw National Recreation Area

Sullys Hill National Park 1904 – 1931 – This park became Sullys Hill National Game Preserve and is no longer part of National Park Service.

Hawaii National Park 1916 – 1960 – This park was split into two and became Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanos National Parks.

Mackinac National Park 1895 – 1975 – This was turned into a state park where vehicles are prohibited.

Fort Mchenry National Park 1925 – 1939 – This was a national park that actually got a bit of a promotion.  It was redesignated to a national monument and historic shrine making it the only site that is both in the park service.

Parks with no entrance fees

Congaree

Great Basin

Great Smoky Mountains

Hot Springs

Redwood

Channel Islands

Lake Clark

Kenai Fjords

Voyageurs

Wrangell St. Elias

Glacier Bay

Kobuk Valley

Wind Cave

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Dog-Friendly Parks

Acadia – They have 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads that are all dog-friendly.

Shenandoah – Only 20 of 500 miles of trails are off limits to your furry friends here.

Cuyahoga Valley – Dogs are permitted throughout the park, including the 20-mile Towpath Trail.

Mammoth Cave – They may not be allowed in the cave, but they are permitted on the above-ground hiking trails.

Yosemite – Dogs are only permitted in the Wawona Meadow Loop, but they are welcome on roads, sidewalks, bike paths, and most campgrounds.  The park also has a kennel from Memorial Day to Labor Day

In all of these parks, dogs must be on leashes, usually around six feet.  Definitely check the park website before going.

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Oldest parks

Yellowstone – March 1, 1872

Sequoia – September 25, 1890

Yosemite – October 1, 1890

Mount Rainier – March 2, 1899

Crater Lake – May 22, 1902

Newest parks

Pinnacles – January 10, 2013

Great Sand Dunes – September 13, 2004

Congaree – November 10, 2003

Cuyahoga Valley – October 11, 2000

Black Canyon of the Gunnison – October 21, 1999

States with the most parks

California and Alaska tie for the most with eight parks each.

  • Alaska
    • Wrangell St. Elias
    • Kobuk Valley
    • Gates of the Arctic
    • Denali
    • Glacier Bay
    • Lake Clark
    • Kenai Fjords
    • Katmai

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  • California
    • Death Valley
    • Sequoia & Kings Canyon
    • Channel Islands
    • Joshua Tree
    • Pinnacles
    • Lassen Volcanic
    • Redwood
    • Yosemite
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Photo by Chelsea Bock on Unsplash

Utah is third with five.

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Colorado is fourth with four parks.

Washington comes in at fifth with three parks.

  • Mount Rainier
  • North Cascade
  • Olympic

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Utah’s Mighty 5

I’ve grown a little attached to the Utah parks since I’ve lived there the last two summers and have gotten to visit all of them multiple times.  I just wanted to share some fun things about all of them here.  I wanted to share this for some since 59 is too many and I figured I’ve been to all of these, so why not?  All of these stats can be found on here.

Arches

Visitors in the first year: 1929 – 500

Visitors in 2016: 1,585,718

Fun fact: There are over 2000 arches in the park and to qualify as an arch, their opening must be at least three feet wide.

Canyonlands

Visitors in the first year: 1965 – 19,400

Visitors in 2016: 776,281

Fun fact: This is where Aaron Ralston was hiking and had to amputate his own forearm after getting it stuck under a boulder in Blue John Canyon.  He was there for 5 days.  The movie 127 hours is based on this.

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Capitol Reef

Visitors in the first year: 1938 – 1500

Visitors in 2016: 1,064,904

Fun fact: There were no visitors between 1942 and 1947.  I found out there were actually somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 those years.  Here’s another fun fact: the waterpocket fold in the park is a 65 million-year-old warp in the Earth’s crust.

Bryce Canyon

Visitors in the first year: 1929 – 21,997

Visitors in 2016: 2,365,110

Fun fact: Bryce Canyon is actually a natural amphitheater, not a canyon.  And on clear days you can see Navajo Mountain in Arizona 90 miles away.

Zion

Visitors in the first year: 1919 – 1,814

Visitors in 2016: 4,295, 127

Fun fact: In 1941 the park had 192,805 visitors, then in 1944 it went back down to 42,243, and in 1946 it went back up to 212,280 and continually went up from there with only a few years lower than the year before.

Other fun stuff

  • Trail Ridge Road in RMNP is one of the highest paved roads.
  • Congaree floods about ten times a year.
  • Gates of the Arctic has no hiking trails, roads, or facilities.
  • Kobuk Valley also has no roads or trails.
  • Great Smoky Mountains has 900 miles of hiking trails.
  • There are alligators and crocodiles in the Everglades.
  • Mesa Verde has 5000 archeological sites and 600 cliff dwellings.
  • Mammoth Cave has over 400 miles of cave mapped underground making it the longest cave system in the world.
  • While Mammoth may be the longest cave system, Carlsbad Caverns is the deepest at 1,593 feet deep.
  • Hot Springs is the only national park in an urban area.
  • Channel Islands have 145 species of plants and animals unique to the park.  It is known as the Galapagos Islands of North America.
  • Great Basin has 5000-year-old bristlecone trees and are among the oldest living organisms on Earth.
  • Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country at almost 2000 feet.
  • You can drive to Voyageurs in the winter via two ice roads.  In the summer you can only go by water.
  • Katmai is home to 2000 grizzly bears.
  • Acadia, Zion, Olympic, Canyonlands, and Saguaro all have multiple sections separated by non-NPS land.
  • Kobuk Valley and Gates of the Arctic are both above the arctic circle.
  • American Samoa is the only park in the Southern Hemisphere.

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And that’s all folks!  If you have anything you think I should add to this, let me know in the comments or shoot me an email at redaroundtheworld@yahoo.com.  I hope you’ve enjoyed learning these things as much as I have.

US National Park Trivia (1)US National Park Trivia

25 thoughts on “Fun National Park Facts

    1. Thank you! 😀 Even living here and basically being somewhere new every six months, it’s still hard to see everything! I love exploring it though! I hope you’ll be able to see more of it, too!

  1. Love this! I barely know any trivia about National Parks. I’ve only visited like 4 of them too (so I’ve added plenty more onto my bucket list after this post) – Hot Springs being #1.

  2. This Is wayt I found on Capitol Reefs:”Capitol Reef National Park was initially designated a National Monument on August 2, 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in order to protect the area’s colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths; however, it was not until 1950 that the area officially opened to the public.”

  3. I was in desperate need of a post like this post! I wish I had this a few years back, lol But seriously this is very well summarized. I try to visit atleast one if not more parks every year and this is a great list for future planing. PS: I am super surprised that Smoky’s is the most visited park and Yellowstone is not even in that category 😮

  4. Congaree NP has the tallest known specimen of at least a dozen tree species and probably has the second tallest east coast tree along with one of the worlds tallest decidious tree canopies

    Smoky Mnt NP is the “salamander capital” with more species than anywhere else of similar size

    Having been to Gates of Arctic I cant imagine anywhere more remote. Nearest roads/tiny towns are hundreds of miles away.

    Loved the post. Our family project59nps on instagram has been to 54 of 59. Almost done!

    1. Very cool! Gates of the Arctic sounds amazing! I didn’t manage to see and salamanders in GSMNP, I wish I did! And I loved all the trees in Congaree!

    1. Very cool! I think either Grand Teton or Great Basin. It’s a tough call! Capitol Reef is up there, too. What about you?

    1. I’ve been working seasonally around the US in different parks for the last almost two years, so that definitely helps to see so many! I love learning about all of the parks!

  5. These are fun facts about the parks. I’ve been to quite a few but I didn’t realize there were 59! Question: You said California had 8 parks, but Pinnacles wasn’t on the list…? I only know about that park because my kids camped there with their school a few years back.

    1. Ohh! Thank you for pointing that out! I always think Kings Canyon and Sequioa are different but they aren’t. It’s fixed!

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