Interesting National Park Facts You may not Know
Our national park system is one of the most-extensive and best-serviced in the world, and more than 300 million people visit them each year. While the majority of visitors come from the United States, nearly 50 million visit from other countries as well. There are over 400 national parks to choose from, and believe it or not, the majority of visitors do go to the ones that we think are the most popular. Let's take a look at these, and some other interesting facts about our national park system that may surprise you.
The First National Park
Theodore Roosevelt may be the first president that comes to mind when we think of conservation, Ulysses S. Grant established Yellowstone as our first national park in 1972. This opened the door to the creation of a number of national parks long before Roosevelt took office. As well-known as Yellowstone is, the park is neither the largest or the most popular.
The Largest National Park
The Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska is by far the largest national park. It covers over 13 million acres of water and land, and it contains abundant wildlife, mountains, coastlines and volcanoes. It is also one of the least-visited as it is so remote and challenging to reach.
The Most Popular
If you had to guess, what park do you think is the most popular? The Grand Canyon? Nope. Denali? Not quite. Yosemite? Not even close. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park receives more than 10 million visitors each year. In contrast, the Grand Canyon averages about 5 million visitors annually.
The Newest National Park
The Pinnacles National Park in California was established in 2013. It boast a diverse and rare geological landscape that includes formations made by ancient volcanic eruptions, canyons, woodlands and even expansive meadows.
The Hottest National Park
California also lays claim to having the hottest national park in the state. Death Valley is not only the hottest part of the country, but many argue that it's also the hottest place on earth. It's also the driest in North America as less than two inches of rain falls each year.
The State With the Most National Parks
California also has more national parks than any other state, and the Pacific Coast Trail meanders through many of them. Alaska comes in at number two with eight parks whereas Arizona only has three.
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas covers around 650 acres of beautiful wooded hills that include trails, hot mineral springs, a museum and a therapeutic spa.
If you are planning on visiting a national park this summer, expect them to be more-crowded than usual. Campsites will fill up fast, and lodges and cabins generally sell out months in advance, especially at some of the more popular locations. However, it's not too late to enjoy what these parks have to offer during the nicest time of the year, especially with a little bit planning and some flexibility.