The US National Park System

On March 1, 1872, Congress established Yellowstone National Park in the Territories of Montana and Wyoming, marking it as a public area for the enjoyment of the people and placing it under the exclusive control of the Secretary of the Interior. In the years that followed, the United States continued to authorize additional national parks and monuments administered by the Department of the Interior. Here are just a few of these national treasures.

  • Yosemite National Park, California | Photo: Shutterstock

    Yosemite National Park, California

    Location: Central Sierra Nevada, California
    Date Established: October 1, 1890
    Annual Visitors: Approximately 4 million
    Unique Features: Yosemite is renowned for its breathtaking granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoias, and biological diversity. Iconic landmarks such as El Capitan and Half Dome draw climbers and hikers from around the world. Yosemite Valley, with its stunning views and lush meadows, epitomizes America's wilderness.

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  • Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii | Photo: Shutterstock

    Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii

    Location: Maui, Hawaii
    Date Established: July 1, 1961
    Annual Visitors: Around 1 million
    Unique Features: Haleakalā, meaning "House of the Sun," is famous for its massive dormant volcano, sunrise views from the summit, and native Hawaiian flora and fauna. The park’s diverse landscapes range from rainforests to stark volcanic deserts and a vibrant ecosystem.

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  • Channel Islands National Park, California | Photo: Shutterstock

    Channel Islands National Park, California

    Location: Off the coast of Southern California
    Date Established: March 5, 1980
    Annual Visitors: Approximately 400,000
    Unique Features: Consisting of five islands, Channel Islands National Park offers pristine coastlines, unique flora and fauna, and rich marine life. The isolation of these islands has allowed for the evolution of over 145 species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world.

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  • Mount Rainier National Park, Washington | Photo: Shutterstock

    Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

    Location: Southeast of Seattle, Washington
    Date Established: March 2, 1899
    Annual Visitors: Around 1.5 million
    Unique Features: Dominated by snow-capped Mount Rainier, this park boasts vast subalpine wildflower meadows, ancient forests, and over 25 glaciers. The active stratovolcano is also home to diverse wildlife and stunning vistas that change with the seasons.

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  • Acadia National Park, Maine | Photo: Shutterstock

    Acadia National Park, Maine

    Location: Mount Desert Island, Maine
    Date Established: July 8, 1916
    Annual Visitors: Roughly 3.5 million
    Unique Features: Known for its rocky headlands, Acadia offers stunning ocean views, dense forests, and the tallest mountain on the eastern seaboard of the United States, Cadillac Mountain. Its network of carriage roads and trails makes it a haven for hikers and cyclists.

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  • Arches National Park, Utah | Photo: Shutterstock

    Arches National Park, Utah

    Location: Eastern Utah
    Date Established: November 12, 1971
    Annual Visitors: About 1.5 million
    Unique Features: More than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the iconic Delicate Arch make up this National Park. The surreal landscape of red rock canyons, spires, and pinnacles forms a fascinating desert scene.

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  • Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming | Photo: Shutterstock

    Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

    Location: Primarily in Wyoming, extending into Montana and Idaho
    Date Established: March 1, 1872
    Annual Visitors: Approximately 4 million
    Unique Features: As the world's first national park, Yellowstone is famous for its geothermal features like geysers and hot springs, especially the iconic Old Faithful. It boasts diverse ecosystems, abundant wildlife, and stunning geological formations such as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The park sits on the Yellowstone Caldera, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano

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  • Shenandoah National Park, Virginia | Photo: Shutterstock

    Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

    Location: Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia
    Date Established: December 26, 1935
    Annual Visitors: Around 1.4 million
    Unique Features: Shenandoah offers over 200,000 acres of protected lands with scenic Skyline Drive, cascading waterfalls, and serene wooded hollows. The park is renowned for its autumn foliage and extensive hiking trails, including a section of the Appalachian Trail.

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  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona | Photo: Shutterstock

    Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

    Location: Northern Arizona
    Date Established: February 26, 1919
    Annual Visitors: Nearly 6 million
    Unique Features: Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world's natural wonders with its immense and visually overwhelming canyon, carved by the Colorado River. The geological history, vistas, and layered bands of red rock make it an unparalleled destination.

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  • Glacier National Park, Montana | Photo: Shutterstock

    Glacier National Park, Montana

    Location: Northern Montana, bordering Canada
    Date Established: May 11, 1910
    Annual Visitors: About 3 million
    Unique Features: Known as the "Crown of the Continent," Glacier National Park boasts rugged mountains, pristine forests, and over 130 named lakes. With landscapes sculpted by ancient glaciers, it offers dramatic scenery and diverse wildlife habitats.

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