In an effort to conserve nature and preserve habitat and ecosystems for Americans to explore, the first United States national park, Yellowstone, was dedicated for preservation in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Located primarily in the state of Wyoming (parts stretch out to Idaho and Montana), the commissioning of Yellowstone marked an important moment in American history; the creation of the National Park Service. The purpose of this federal agency, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed at the time of its inception, to wit, was to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. As such, today there are 59 designated United States national parks for Americans to wander, explore, and take in their awe inspiring natural beauty.
There are United States national parks in nearly every region of the country. That being said, the Northeast and Midwest have far fewer United States national parks than the South, Southwest, West, and Northwest. In fact, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have no United States national parks. The most well known United States national parks, however, are naturally the ones with the most visitors each year; the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (located in North Carolina and Tennessee), which receives more than 9 million visitors each year, followed by the Grand Canyon National Park (located in Arizona), which gets more than 4 million visits per year. Alaska can claim the largest United States national parks; seven out of the 10 largest, in fact! The top three largest United States national parks in Alaska are Wrangell St. Elias, Gates of the Arctic, and Denali national park are 13,000, 11,700, and 7,400 square miles, respectively. In terms of the United States national parks with the highest elevations, Alaska takes the first, second, and third place of that prize, too. Sequoia National Park in California, Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, are the fourth, fifth, and sixth highest elevation United States national parks.
The costs associated with visiting United States national parks vary but are very affordable for most; the Grand Canyon charges $25 per vehicle ($12 if you are entering on foot or bicycle). The National Park Service offers annual passes, which if you and your family plan on visiting more than three or four parks each year, is well worth the investment. Additionally, each year the National Parks Service designates free days when no admission is charged to enter any of the United States national parks. The United states national parks free days include Martin Luther King holiday weekend, Veterans Day weekend, Public Lands Day, and Get Outdoors Day.Share This : by