100 Facts about our National Parks


Author: Steven Shaw
Date: 05.23.18

100 The highest point in North America is Denali, soaring some 20,320ft (6193.5 m). It is in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

99 Death Valley National Park in southern California is the largest national park in the Lower 48.

98 There is at least one NPS site in all 50 states, Washington D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

97 Appalachian National Trail’s more than 2,000 miles weave through 14 states.

96 Did you know Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota was the first cave to be named a national park in the entire world?

95 Wapusk National Park in Canada is home to one of the world’s largest known polar bear maternity denning areas. There are more than 900 polar bears in the park. In the Cree language, “Wapusk” means “white bear.”

94  There are more than 18,000 miles of hiking trails in America’s national parks waiting to be explored.

93 Sable Island National Park Reserve off the of Nova Scotia in Canada is home to around 500 wild horses that roam the island freely.

92  Both California and Alaska have 8 national parks, tied for the most for in the country.

91 Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine is the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast.

May Lake in Yosemite National Park.

May Lake in Yosemite National Park.

90 More than 20 shipwrecks can be explored amongst ancient underwater trees in Fathom Five National Marine Park in Ontario.

89 Yosemite National Park in California is home to 3 of the 10 highest waterfalls in the world.

88 The statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial took 4 years to carve and weighs 175 tons. That’s 350,000 pounds.

87 In 1937 a giant sequoia tree fell and blocked a road in Sequoia National Park in California. Solution?  The National Park Service cut a tunnel through the massive tree.

86 Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky houses the longest cave system in the world. More than 400 miles of cave mapped, and more are coming.

85 40 million years of fossil history is preserved at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon.

84 Great Smoky Mountain is the most visited national park, each year more than 10 million people head to the Smokies.

83 Kobuk Valley National Park in Alaska is the least visited national park. Less than 20,000 people visit each year.

82 The smallest NPS unit less than one acre in downtown Philadelphia, the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial. Kosciuszko was a polish citizen who fought on the American side during the American Revolutionary War.

81 National Parks provide habitat for more than 500 endangered or threatened species.


The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. PC: NPS

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. PC: NPS

80 Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa has more than 200 preserved American Indian mounds.

79 Lava Beds National Monument in California is home to more than 700 caves.

78 The National Park of American Samoa is the only park service site south of the equator.

77 Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt have the most NPS sites named for them... 4 Each:  

  • Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Kentucky
  • Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
  • Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Indiana
  • Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Illinois
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington D.C.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site in New York
  • Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in New York
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota

76 2.5 BILLION years old… that's how old some of the spires in City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho are, making them among some of the oldest rocks in the U.S.

75 There are nearly 300 waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park, the highest, Lower Falls plunges 308 ft.  

74 The highest tides in the world are found at  Fundy National Park, in New Brunswick Canada. In some areas, the water rises the height of a 4- story building! The powerful tides have carved out steep cliffs and tall rock formations called sea stacks.

73 In 1951, the familiar NPS arrowhead was designated as the National Park Service’s official emblem.

72  Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 4,000 plant species,140 tree species and is designated an International Biosphere Reserve.

71 There are 88 National Park Service sites related to the Civil War.

Beautiful Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado PC: Patrick Myers, NPS

Beautiful Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado PC: Patrick Myers, NPS

70 The lowest point in the western hemisphere is Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park in California, which is 282 feet below sea level.

69 The Haida Gwaii black bear is only found in Canada. You can see one in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. They have survived off of salmon and shellfish for so long that they’ve evolved larger jaws and teeth than other black bears.

68 Yellowstone National Park is home to North America’s largest supervolcano.

67 Within the National Parks System, there are 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures preserved.

66 Did you know Yosemite National Park bid to host the 1932 Winter Olympics?

65 Did you know the Florida Everglades are the only true tropical forest in the northern hemisphere?

64 Ivvavik National Park in the Canadian Arctic has an entire month during the winter when the sun does not rise and two months during the summer when the sun does not set.

63 Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico contains the nation’s deepest cave at 1,593 feet deep.

62 The largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie in North America is located in Everglades National Park in Florida.

61 Acadia National Park in Maine was the first park designated east of the Mississippi River and is the only national park in the Northeast.

American Crocodile in Everglades National Park. PC: NPS

American Crocodile in Everglades National Park. PC: NPS

60 There are 2 national parks north of the Arctic Circle: Gates of the Arctic National Park and the Kobuk Valley National Park.  Both are located in Alaska.

59 Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas was first Hot Springs Reservation and protected by an act of the United States Congress on April 20, 1832, to be preserved for future recreation. That’s 40 years before Yellowstone became our nation’s first national park.

58 The National Park Service manages several former prisons, including Alcatraz, Andersonville, Fort McHenry and Dry Tortugas.

57 The first national park to be recognized for “works of man,” was Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. The park is home to incredible cliff dwellings left behind by the Pueblo Indians.

56 There are more bird species in Big Bend National Park, Texas than any other U.S. National Park, 450 to be exact.

55 People can visit General Stonewall Jackson’s Left Arm gravestone at Chancellorsville in Virginia.

54 Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, is the highest continuous paved road in the United States and features sweeping views and vistas along its entire 48 miles.

53 President Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and mother both died on Valentine’s Day in 1884. He retreated to the rugged North Dakota badlands where he once hunted bison, an area that would become Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 1978

52 Kluane National Park in the Yukon is home to Mount Logan, which at 19,551 feet makes it the second tallest mountain in North America.

51 The Blue Ridge Parkway is the busiest park service site with more than 11 million visitors each year.

Glacier National Park in northern Montana. PC: NPS

Glacier National Park in northern Montana. PC: NPS

50 Did you know the president lives on land managed by the National Park Service? The White House is part of President’s Park.

49 The elements within the National Park Service arrowhead symbolize the major facets of the national park system. The Sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife, the mountains and water represent scenic and recreational values, and the arrowhead itself represents historical and archeological values.

48 Did you know the second national park in the U.S. is no longer a national park? Mackinac National Park was a. national park from 1875 to 1895 on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan Making it the second National Park in the United States after Yellowstone National Park. In 1895, the park was turned over to the State of Michigan, becoming Mackinac Island State Park, the first state park in Michigan.

47 7000 years before Christ. That’s how long an almost continuous record of human habitation of Russell Cave National Monument, Alabama, goes back.

46 Banff National Park in Alberta has in excess of 1,000 glaciers.

45 Within the National Park Service, there are more national monuments than any other NPS designation.

44 The United States Army Cavalry protected many parks from 1886 to 1916, the year the National Park Service was established.

43 Carving on Mount Rushmore started in 1927, and the final drilling took place in 1941.

42 From the early 1900’s through 1968 fiery embers were spilled from the top of Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park to the valley floor, some 3,000 feet of flames. The National Park Service ended the “unnatural” practice in 1968.

41 Glacier National Park has 25 named glaciers all of which are shrinking.

Waterfall in Shenandoah National Park. PC N. Lewis, NPS

Waterfall in Shenandoah National Park. PC N. Lewis, NPS

40 The first female nature guides worked in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.  Esther and Elizabeth Burnell first visited the park’s Estes Park area in 1916, they would become the first female naturalists certified by the National Park Service.

39 White Sands National Monument is home to the largest gypsum dune fields in the world. The monument spans more than 176,000 acres of New Mexico desert.

38 Death Valley National Park was turned into a National Park in 1994, after first being a national monument.

37 The Great Smoky Mountains are sometimes called the “Salamander Capital of the World.” Approximately 30 different species of salamanders live within the park boundaries.

36 Dry Tortugas National Park has one of the largest concentrations of sea turtles in the world.

35 President Gerald Ford is the only president to ever serve in the National Park Service. In the summer of 1936, Ford was a seasonal park ranger at Yellowstone National Park. A time he later called  “One of the greatest summers of my life.” While working in Yellowstone, one of his assignments was as an armed guard on the bear-feeding truck. Yes, they used to feed bears in Yellowstone.

34 Shenandoah National Park Ranger Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning not once… but  7 times during his life. Get this, he survived them all and worked in Shenandoah from 1942 to 1977.

33 The largest “room” in the portion of Mammoth Cave National Park that has been discovered is two acres in size.

32 In 1937 a giant sequoia fell and blocked the road in Sequoia National Park in California. Rangers solved the problem by carving a hole through it.

31 Since 1583 there have been over 350 recorded shipwrecks at Sable Island National Park Reserve off the of Nova Scotia in Canada, earning it the title of “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. PC: Candence Cook, NPS

Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. PC: Candence Cook, NPS

30 Did you know Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few major national parks that does not charge an admission fee?

29 Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas was the first piece of land had been set aside by the federal government to preserve its use as an area for recreation.

28 Elk was reintroduced into Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2001.

27 Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the largest active volcano in the world.

26 Joshua Tree National Park in California was turned into a National Park in 1994, after first being a national monument since 1936.

25 Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is the largest U.S. park, spanning 13.2 million acres, an area bigger than Switzerland. It also covers three climate zones.

24 Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial is the smallest property owned by the National Parks Service. It is a house in Philadelphia where Kosciuszko, a Polish freedom fighter, lived for a time. It’s 0.02 acres.

23 Arches National Park in Utah has more than 2,000 natural stone arches.

22 More than quarter of a million people passed by Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska from 1843 to 1869 on their way west.

21 Did you know Ribbon Falls in Yosemite is 9 times taller than the much more famous Niagara Falls

Mount Rainier. PC: NPS

Mount Rainier. PC: NPS

20 Denali National Park in Alaska has the widest range of elevations. The lowest at 200 feet in Yentna River to 20,302 feet at the summit of Denali.

19 Everglades National Park in Florida is home to plants and animals you can’t find anywhere else, including the endangered Florida Panther and twenty species of orchid.

18 Every morning during the carving of Mount Rushmore workers climbed 700 stairs to the top of the mountain to punch a time clock. Nearly 400 men and women worked on Mount Rushmore, and 90 percent of the carving was done with dynamite.

17 “Old Faithful” in Yellowstone National Park got it’s because visitors can rely on it to erupt regularly. So how often does Old Faithful erupt? Every 36 to 120 minutes for a minute and a half to 5 minutes long.  Its maximum eruption height ranges from 90 to 184 feet.

16 Glacier National Park has a total of 762 lakes. 131 of them has names.

15 Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park is the tallest waterfall in the United States. It has a vertical drop of 2,425 feet.

14 Mount Rainier became the United State’s 5th National Park in 1899. Mount Rainier is also an active volcano that last erupted about 1,000 years ago. The park is 369 square miles and has 260 miles of hiking trails.

13 Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park has the world’s largest beaver dam in the world. It’s roughly 8 football fields. That’s so big, you can see it from outer space. In fact, it was discovered from a picture taken by a satellite camera.

12 Arches National Park in Utah has the largest concentration of stone arches in the world.

11 The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches for 469 miles and connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

10 Crater Lake NP in Oregon is the deepest lake in the United States. It’s 1,932 feet deep, that’s about 5 times the height of the Statue of Liberty.   

9 President Woodrow Wilson signed the Act that created the National Park Service in 1916, nearly 5 decades after the designation of Yellowstone National Park.

The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, California is the largest living single-stem tree in the world. The tree is roughly 275 feet tall and weighs about 1,900 metric tonnes.

7 Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site is composed of Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks as well as Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks.

6 The most famous landmark in the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise,  was “discovered” by outfitter Tom Wilson in 1882. However, natives of the Bow Valley knew about for many years prior.

Voyageurs National Park is the only national park in the state of Minnesota. 'Voyageur' is a French word that translates to 'traveler' in English.

4 The Grand Canyon is considered one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.

3 Did you know Arlington National Cemetery is located on Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s confiscated estate?

2 Banff was the 1st national park established in Canada,

1 In 1872 our nation’s “best idea” was born with the establishment of Yellowstone National Park, which was not only the first national park in the United States but in the world.