The National Parks Service, an organ of the U.S. Dept of the Interior currently manages 59 National Parks. The National Park Service started operations on August 25, 1916, after President Woodrow Wilson approved an act to create the organ. Over time, the agency's jurisdiction has expanded not only to oversee national parks but monuments, mass recreation regions, as well as historic sites. The service is mandated to protect American natural and historical heritage and to facilitate their use by the public.
Some Of The Most Notable And Unique National Parks In The US
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona State, and it occupies a total area of 1,217,403 acres. The park’s outstanding landform is the Grand Canyon gorge, formed by geological and erosion processes over time. The Grand Canyon is 1, 600 meters deep, 446 km long and 29 km wide and makes for a spectacular landscape. The park is home to a range of landscapes, from deserts, plains and plateaus, rivers and waterfalls, and lava flows. The park’s topography is rugged and dominated by cliffs, and it is only accessible to the public through the established North and South Rims. The park has a desert climate, with hot summers and extreme winter months. The park’s vegetation consists of riparian communities of mainly catclaw acacia, coyote willow, and seep willow species as well as boreal forests of spruce, fir, oak, mahogany, and pine trees. Wildlife present includes mountain lions, mule deer, raccoons, bighorn sheep, Abert’s squirrel, and elk. The park is managed by the National Park Service guided by the General Management Plan drafted in 1995.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bende National Park stretches for 801,163 acres in the state of Texas. The park covers elevations between 1,800 to 4,500 feet of the Chihuahuan Desert. The park is also home to the Chisos Mountains, Carmen Mountains, Mariscal Mountains, and Santiago Mountains and the Rio Grande River cuts across the area. The park receives less than 10 inches of rainfall annually and has hot and dry summers with mild winters. The mountains are home to oak, pine, and juniper forests while cactuses, yuccas, bunchgrasses, desert willow, and bluebonnets dominate the lowlands. Notable fauna roaming the park includes deer, cougar, Mexican black bears, mountain lions, and gray fox. Big Bend National Park is threatened by decreasing quantities of water in the Rio Grande River Pollution due to excessive siphoning and longer periods of drought. Air pollution is another environmental concern in the park.
Denali National Park
Denali National Park is located in Alaska, and it occupies an area of 4,740,912 acres. The park’s outstanding feature in Mount Mckinley (Denali), which at 20,310 feet is the highest mountain in North America. The park’s landscape is characterized by snow, glaciers and rocks in the high, tundra in the middle elevations, and forests in the lowlands. The park covers vast expanses of the Alaska wilderness, from valleys, rivers, lakes, to hills. The Denali Park Road is the only road cutting across the facility.
The park has long winter months interrupted by the cool and damp summer. Fauna roaming the park includes grizzly bears, red foxes, black bears, Canadian lynx, coyotes, and beavers. Migratory birds observed in the park include the golden eagles, Arctic warblers, hawks, and wheatears. The park’s rangers are guided by various plans drafted by the National Park Service.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is situated in Florida State, and it covers an area of 1,508,538 acres. The park encompasses several significant habits, from mangroves, freshwater marshes, islands of Florida Bay, coastal prairies, cypress and pine woodlands, and seagrass. These habitats support populations of the Florida panther, white-tailed deer, crocodile, turtles, snakes, Manatee, and avifauna such as pelicans, pigeons, herons, kingfisher, egrets, and woodpeckers.
The park’s climate ranges between tropical monsoon climate and tropical savanna climate. The dry season is spelled out between the months of December and April, and temperature ranges from 12 to 25 degrees Celsius. The wet season lasts from May and November, and annual average rainfall is 60 inches. The park is threatened by introduced plant and animal species, urban development, water control, pollution, and agricultural expansion. The park’s boundaries have since been extended as a measure against urban development and habitat loss.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park occupies an area of 323,431 acres in Hawaii County. The park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and KĪlaulea. The park’s landscape is dynamic due to continuing volcanic activity. Volcanic landscapes characterize the park, from craters to lava flows. The park supports populations of bats, insects, caterpillars and avifauna including the Hawaii creeper, honeycreepers, hawks, goose, and monarch. Threats to the park are alien plant and animal species and habitat loss. The National Park Service is engaging in restoration programs for endangered species and removal of invasive species.
Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park is situated in Arkansas State, and it covers an area of 5,550 acres. The park is home to 47 hot springs and a network of bathhouses. The springs discharge nearly 700,000 gallons daily into a reservoir system which channels the water to commercial balls and fountains. The springs’ source lies in the Hot Springs Mountain located in the park. The region’s topography consists of sedimentary and igneous rocks. The park has forests dominated by oak, pines, and hickory tree species. Fauna roaming the region includes the coyote, raccoon, white-tailed deer, rats, gray fox, and weasels. Most of the park’s area lies in proximity to urban regions and is threatened by air pollution, invasive plants and wildlife, and tourism pressure.
Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park extends over an area of 112,512 acres in the state of California. The park provides a habitat for some of the world’s tallest redwood trees as well as forests of oak, fir, and spruce tree species. The trees support an undergrowth of ferns, blackberry, salmonberry, and azalea. The sustainability of the native vegetation is continuously threatened by invasive alien plant species. The park’s habitats range from coastline, prairie, woodlands, rivers, and hills.
Notable fauna includes the Steller sea lion, black bear, deer, elk, harbor seals, coyote, and cougar. The park experiences an oceanic temperate rainforest climate, with yearly precipitation recorded between 64 and 310 cm. The park’s management staff has been using controlled fires as a measure against exotic plant species.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Located in Colorado State, the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve occupies an area of 42,984 acres. The park is home to numerous sand dunes, including some of North America’s highest ones. The sand dunes are ever shifting due to the wind patterns of San Luis Valley. The dunes are situated at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and alpine lakes and wetlands are also present in the park.
The park has a desert climate with cold nights during winter and an annual rainfall average of 280 mm. Pine, juniper, aspen, and fir species dominate the forests. Animals in the park include the cougar, bison, bighorn sheep, elk, and badger. The park’s ecology has been adversely affected by air pollution and extended periods of drought.
Other National Parks In The US
National Parks in Utah State are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. Alaska boasts the American national parks of Wrangell-St. Elias, Lake Clark, Kobuk Valley, Kenai Fjords, Katmai, Glacier Bay, and Gates of the Arctic. The Yosemite, Sequoia, Pinnacles, Lassen Volcanic, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Channel Islands National Parks are located in the state of California. Other US national parks include Acadia (Maine); American Samoa in American Samoa; Badlands (South Dakota) among many others.
How Many National Parks Are There In The United States?
|National Parks of the United States (State(s) or Territory)||Area|
|Acadia (Maine)||47,390 acres|
|American Samoa (American Samoa)||9,000 acres|
|Arches (Utah)||76,519 acres|
|Badlands (South Dakota)||242,756 acres|
|Big Bend (Texas)||801,163 acres|
|Biscayne (Florida)||172,924 acres|
|Black Canyon of the Gunnison (Colorado)||32,950 acres|
|Bryce Canyon (Utah)||35,835 acres|
|Canyonlands (Utah)||337,598 acres|
|Capitol Reef (Utah)||241,904 acres|
|Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico)||46,766 acres|
|Channel Islands (California)||249,561 acres|
|Congaree (South Carolina)||26,546 acres|
|Crater Lake (Oregon)||183,224 acres|
|Cuyahoga Valley (Ohio)||32,950 acres|
|Death Valley (California and Nevada)||3,372,402 acres|
|Denali (Alaska)||4,740,912 acres|
|Dry Tortugas (Florida)||64,701 acres|
|Everglades (Florida)||1,508,538 acres|
|Gates of the Arctic (Alaska)||7,523,898 acres|
|Glacier (Montana)||1,013,572 acres|
|Glacier Bay (Alaska)||3,224,840 acres|
|Grand Canyon (Arizona)||1,217,403 acres|
|Grand Teton (Wyoming)||309,995 acres|
|Great Basin (Nevada)||77,180 acres|
|Great Sand Dunes (Colorado)||42,984 acres|
|Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee and North Carolina)||521,490 acres|
|Guadalupe Mountains (Texas)||86,416 acres|
|Haleakalā (Hawaii)||29,094 acres|
|Hawaii Volcanoes (Hawaii)||323,431 acres|
|Hot Springs (Arkansas)||5,550 acres|
|Isle Royale (Michigan)||571,790 acres|
|Joshua Tree (California)||789,745 acres|
|Katmai (Alaska)||3,674,530 acres|
|Kenai Fjords (Alaska)||669,983 acres|
|Kings Canyon (California)||461,901 acres|
|Kobuk Valley (Alaska)||1,750,717 acres|
|Lake Clark (Alaska)||2,619,733 acres|
|Lassen Volcanic (California)||106,372 acres|
|Mammoth Cave (Kentucky)||52,830 acres|
|Mesa Verde (Colorado)||52,122 acres|
|Mount Rainier (Washington)||235,625 acres|
|North Cascades (Washington)||504,781 acres|
|Olympic (Washington)||922,651 acres|
|Petrified Forest (Arizona)||93,533 acres|
|Pinnacles (California)||26,606 acres|
|Redwood (California)||112,512 acres|
|Rocky Mountain (Colorado)||265,828 acres|
|Saguaro (Arizona)||91,440 acres|
|Sequoia (California)||404,051 acres|
|Shenandoah (Virginia)||199,045 acres|
|Theodore Roosevelt (North Dakota)||70,446.89 acres|
|Virgin Islands (United States Virgin Islands)||14,689 acres|
|Voyageurs (Minnesota)||218,200 acres|
|Wind Cave (South Dakota)||28,295 acres|
|Wrangell–St. Elias (Alaska)||8,323,148 acres|
|Yellowstone (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho)||2,219,791 acres|
|Yosemite (California)||761,266 acres|
|Zion (Utah)||146,598 acres|
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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