There are 61 protected areas in the United States commonly referred to as national parks. These protected areas were established by an act of the US Congress and are managed by the National Park Service. Yellowstone was the first national park to be created followed by Mackinac and Rock Creek Park. Most of the national parks are located within a single state while others like the Death Valley, Yellowstone, and the Great Smoky Mountains are shared by at least two states. Below are some of the states with the most national parks.
States With the Most National Parks
California - 9
California is the 3rd largest state in the US after Alaska and Texas. Therefore, it is no surprise that it has the highest number of national parks in the country. The state has a record of nine national parks, including Yosemite, the fifth most visited national park in the country. California also shares the Death Valley National Park with the state of Nevada. The largest national park entirely located in the state is Joshua Tree National Park.
Alaska - 8
Alaska, the largest state in the US, has eight national parks. Seven of the ten largest national parks in the country are located in Alaska, including the 8.3 million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias, the country’s largest. The smallest protected in the state is Kenai Fjord, covering about 669,650 acres. Some of the national parks in Alaska include Denali National Park (home to the tallest mountain in North America), Gates of the Arctic, Katmai, Glacier Bay, Lake Clark, and Kobuk Valley.
Utah - 5
Even though Utah is only the 13th largest state in the US, it has five national parks, the third-highest in the country. Collectively known as “Mighty Five,” these national parks are located in the southern part of the state. The largest protected area in the state is Canyonlands National Park. However, Zion National Park is the most visited, attracting over 4 million visitors in 2018. Other National Parks are Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches.
Colorado - 4
Colorado has four national parks including the famous Rocky Mountains which is bisected by the Continental Divide. The national parks in the state are relatively small with only two (Great Sand Dunes and the Rocky Mountains) covering an area of more than 100,000 acres. Mesa Verda, which is made up of 4,000 archeological sites covers about 52,485 acres and is the second-most visited national park in the state. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison protects part of the Gunnison Rivers and features some of North America’s steepest cliffs.
Important Facts about National Parks in the US
Of the 50 states in the US, only 29 have national parks. The territories of US Virgin Island and American Samoa each have a single national park. About 52 million acres of the US land is protected by the National Park. The majority of the states have one national park. The most visited national park, the Grand Canyon National Park, is shared by two states; Tennessee and North Carolina. It attracted over 11 million visitors in 2017. The smallest national park in the country is the Gateway Arch, located in Missouri.