Fun Facts About U.S. National Parks: Geographic Curiosities

Fun Facts About US National Parks - Directions, Locations, Landmarks

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) 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.

Grab a map and a compass. The following 18 facts center aro­­und where national parks are located, how to get there, and some of the awe-inspiring, record-setting geographic landmarks you might discover within.

1) California is home to nine national parks — more than any other state.

California National Parks

2) Alaska runs a close second, with eight.

Alaska National Parks

3) There are 23 states without national parks.

4) However, there is a national historical park in the U.S. territory of Guam: War in the Pacific.

5) There’s a national park in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well. More than half of the island of St. John is covered by Virgin Islands National Park.

Virgin Islands National Park

6) The only park south of the equator is the National Park of American Samoa.

7) But there are four NPS sites above the Arctic Circle: Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and Kobuk Valley National Park and Noatak National Preserve. All four sites are located in Alaska.

Kobuk Valley National Park

8) Most national parks are easily accessible, but many in Alaska can only be reached by bush plane, a small aircraft designed to land in remote, hard-to-reach locales.

9) You’ll also need a seaplane or boat to visit Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior.

Isle Royale National Park

10) Standing 275 feet tall in Sequoia National Park, you won’t find the world’s tallest tree, but you will find the largest. This tree’s trunk measures 52,500 cubic feet in volume, which is more than half the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool. According to legend, the tree was named General Sherman by naturalist James Wolverton, who had served under Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman during the U.S. Civil War.

General Sherman- Sequoia National Park

11) Sequoia National Park is also home to Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, measuring in at 14, 494 feet.

Mount Whitney National Park

12) The tallest mountain in North America is Denali, which towers 20,310 feet above the landscape in Denali National Park and Preserve.

Mount Denali, Denali National Park

13) On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest point in North America is also located inside a national park. Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park sits 282 feet below sea level.

Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park

14) Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park lives up to its name. It’s home to the world’s longest known cave system with more than 400 miles — about the distance between Chicago and Nashville, Tennessee — mapped so far.

15) The deepest lake in the U.S. can be found at Crater Lake National Park. At its deepest point, the lake is 1,943 feet — the equivalent of six Statues of Liberty stacked on top of one another.

Crater Lake National Park

16) You can hike down the equivalent of nearly 20 Statues of Liberty when you visit the Grand Canyon’s deepest point at 6,000 feet.

Grand Canyon National Park

17) The largest national park is the 13.2 million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, which is so big, you could fit nearly six parks the size of Yellowstone inside of it.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

18) The smallest national park is Hot Springs National Park, coming in at less than 6,000 acres. That’s more than 2,200 times smaller than Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

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About the Author

Danielle Taylor is a freelance writer whose work 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.