Fun Facts About U.S. National Parks: Natural Phenomena

Visiting a U.S. National Park? Check out these fun facts for the best places to explore unique natural features! See these and other national park fun facts on

The U.S. National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016. In honor of the centennial, we are sharing 100 facts, from the basic to the bizarre, to inspire you to join in the celebration at one of the many beautiful national parks across the country.

One of the best parts about visiting a national park is the chance to commune with nature. Discover some of the interesting natural features and phenomena at several of our national parks with these 12 facts:

1) Fireflies at Elkmont Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park flash in unison for two weeks each summer.

Elkmont Campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

2) Yellowstone National Park sits on an active supervolcano, which last erupted approximately 640,000 years ago. This level of volcanic activity explains why there are roughly 10,000 geothermal features in Yellowstone.

3) Of Yellowstone’s 10,000-plus geothermal features, about 500 are geysers, making the park home to more geysers than anywhere else on the planet.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

4) Yosemite National Park’s Horsetail Waterfall is often compared to a falling river of fire on cloudless February afternoons due to the angle of the sun at sunset.

Horsetail Waterfall, Yosemite National Park, California

5) One of the world’s most active volcanoes can be found in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

6) Single-celled organisms living in Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Spring cause the waters to appear rainbow colored.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

7) All 25 functional glaciers in Glacier National Park are shrinking.

Glacier National Park, Montana

8) The Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park are long-rumored to be the inspiration for the Truffula trees in Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax.”

Joshua Tree National Park, California

9) The world’s largest protected brown/grizzly bear population lives in Katmai National Park. They are drawn there by spawning salmon. You can watch them catching salmon via a live webcam feed.

Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska

10) Every summer night in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, hundreds of thousands of bats fly out of the cave into the sky.

11) Olympic National Park receives more than 12 feet of rain each year, making it one of North America’s best remaining examples of a temperate rain forest.

Olympic National Park, Washington

12) The endangered Shenandoah salamander only lives in Shenandoah National Park.


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About the Author

Danielle Taylor is a freelance writer who covers outdoor recreation, conservation, public lands and travel. She's spending much of 2016 on a road trip to America's national parks. To learn about her work and travels, follow her on Twitter and Facebook, and visit her website.