13 Places To Visit Within The National Park Service

This year will mark the 100th birthday celebration of the National Park Service, a branch of the federal government that has acquired, protected, and maintained millions of acres of land since it was founded in 1916. To help you join in the festivities, here is a list of 13 parks that are owned by the National Park Service that you should pay a visit to this year.

1. Yellowstone National Park 

Founded in 1872, Yellowstone became the world’s first national park. It is home to sites like Old Faithful and covers nearly 3,500 square miles of land. Yellowstone lies mainly in Wyoming, but it does also extend into parts of Idaho and Montana.

2. Wrangel-St. Elias National Park

Taking up 13.2 million acres in Alaska, Wrangel-St. Elias National Park is the largest national park system in the entire world. It’s also the perfect excuse to escape to
Alaska, especially if you have never been before.

3. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park rests among the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. It is home to California’s famed sequoia trees, Tunnel View, and for Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in the United States.

4. Great Smokey Mountains National Park

The Great Smokey Mountains make up the most frequently visited national parks in the country. Along with tourists visiting nearby Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the park plays host to more than 10 million visitors each year, and features an abundance of hiking trails and outdoor sites, including a segment of the Appalachian Trail.

5. The Grand Canyon

There is really no reason anybody should go through life without having seen the Grand Canyon. It covers an area of 1,902 square miles, and is one of the United State’s most iconic landmarks.

6. Mammoth Cave

Mammoth Cave is located in central Kentucky, and is credited as the longest cave system in the entire world. Lighted tours are held that explore sections of the more than 400 miles of cavernous tunnels.  

7. Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park is a dark-sky zone, making it one of the best sites in the whole country for stargazing. In fact, an annual stargazing festival is held every year, so be sure to consider paying a visit sometime this year.

8. Sequoia National Park

Located very close to Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park is located in the southern portion of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and covers more than 404,064 acres. It is home to California’s sequoia trees, which can grow more than 350 feet tall.

9. Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is located in the Rocky Mountains in Montana, and covers a total of 1,583 square miles. It features more than 700 miles of hiking trails, Hidden Lake, a plethora of wildlife, and is crossed by the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road.

10. Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is the fifth oldest park in the National Park system and is located in southern Oregon. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, dropping to a depth of 1,943ft. 

11. Dry Tortugas National Park

The Dry Tortugas National Park lies in the Gulf of Mexico, 68 miles west of Key West. It is home to the seven Dry Tortugas islands, the most isolated and westernmost located islands in the Florida Keys. That being said, this one is only accessible by boat, so if you aren’t one for handling motion or seasickness, you might have to pass on it.

12. Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park makes up 118 miles of the US/Mexican border, right alongside the Rio Grande, which, itself, runs 1000 miles along that same border. The majority of the park is located in Texas, and consists of the largest area of protected Chihuahuan Desert topography in the US.

13. Biscayne National Park

Like Dry Tortugas, this national park is also located in the tropics region, mainly in southern Florida, south of Miami. It is home to Biscayne Bay and the various barrier reefs that make up the surrounding area. To that end, only about 5% of it is made up of land, so be prepared to get in the water on this trip.