Maine: Covering most of Mount Desert Island and other coastal islands, this park preserves the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast, granite peaks, ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes. There are freshwater, estuary, forest, and intertidal habitats.
Pacific Ocean near Australia: The southernmost national park is on three islands and protects coral reefs, rainforests, volcanic mountains, and white beaches. The area is also home to native people, flying foxes, brown boobies, sea turtles, and 900 species of fish.
Utah: This site features more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the Delicate Arch. In a desert climate millions of years of erosion have led to these structures, and the arid ground has life-sustaining soil crust and potholes, natural water-collecting basins. Other geologic formations are stone columns, spires, fins, and towers.
South Dakota: Here you can find a collection of buttes, pinnacles, spires, and grass prairies. It has the world's richest fossil beds from the Oligocene epoch, and there is wildlife including bison, bighorn sheep, black-footed ferrets, and swift foxes.
Texas: Named for a bend of the Rio Grande along the US-Mexico border, this park includes a part of the Chihuahuan Desert. A wide variety of Cretaceous and Tertiary fossils as well as cultural artifacts of Native Americans exist within its borders.
Florida: Located in the bay of the same name, this park at the north end of the Florida Keys has four interrelated marine ecosystems: mangrove forest, the Bay, the Keys, and coral reefs. Threatened animals include the West Indian Manatee, American crocodile, various sea turtles, and peregrine falcon.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Colorado: The park protects a quarter of the a River with the same name, which has dark canyon walls from the Precambrian era. The canyon has very steep descents, and it is a site for river rafting and rock climbing. The narrow, steep canyon, made of gneiss and schist, is often in shadow, appearing black.
Utah: This canyon is a giant natural amphitheatre along the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The unique area has hundreds of tall hoodoos (thin spires of rock) formed by erosion. The region was originally settled by Native Americans and later by Mormon pioneers.
Utah: This landscape was eroded into canyons, buttes, and mesas by the Colorado River, Green River, and their tributaries, which divide the park into four districts. There are rock pinnacles and other naturally sculpted rock, as well as artifacts from Ancient Pueblo Peoples.
Utah: The park's Waterpocket Fold is a 100-mile (160 km) monocline ( that shows the earth's geologic layers. Other natural features are monoliths and sandstone domes and cliffs shaped like the United States Capitol.
New Mexico: This cave system has 117 caves, the longest of which is over 120 miles (190 km) long. The Big Room is almost 4,000 feet (1,200 m) long, and the caves are home to over 400,000 Mexican Free-tailed Bats and sixteen other species. Above ground are the Chihuahuan Desert and Rattlesnake Springs.
California: Five of these eight islands are protected, and half of the park's area is underwater. The islands have a unique Mediterranean ecosystem. They are home to over 2,000 species of land plants and animals, and 145 are unique to them. The islands were originally settled by the Chumash people.
South Carolina: On the river of the same name, this park is the largest portion of old-growth floodplain forest left in North America. Some of the trees are the tallest in the Eastern US, and the Boardwalk Loop is an elevated walkway through the swamp.
Oregon: Known for its blue water and its clarity, this is the deepest lake in the United States and it lies in the caldera of Mount Mazama formed 7,700 years ago after an eruption. There are two islands in the lake, and, with no inlets or outlets, all water comes through precipitation.
Ohio: This park along the river of the same name has waterfalls, hills, trails, and displays about early rural living. The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail follows the Ohio and Erie Canal, where mules towed canal boats. The park has numerous historic homes, bridges, and structures.
California and Nevada: This is the hottest, lowest, and driest place in the United States. There are canyons, colorful badlands, sand dunes, mountains, and over 1000 species of plants in this graben on a fault line. Further geologic points of interest are salt flats, springs, and buttes.
Alaska: Centered around the Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, this park is serviced by a single road leading to Wonder Lake. McKinley and other peaks of the Alaska Range are covered with long glaciers and boreal forest. Wildlife includes grizzly bears, Dall sheep, caribou, and gray wolves.
Florida: Located on the west end of the Florida Keys, this is the site of Fort Jefferson, the largest masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere. With most of the park being water, it is the home of coral reefs and shipwrecks and is only accessible by plane or boat.
Florida: This is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. This mangrove ecosystem and marine estuary is home to 36 protected species, including the Florida panther, American crocodile, and West Indian manatee. Some areas have been drained and developed, but restoration projects aim to restore the ecology.
Gates of the Arctic
Alaska: This northernmost US park protects part of the Brooks Range and has no park facilities. The land is home to Alaska natives, who have relied on the land and caribou for 11,000 years.
Montana: Part of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, this park has 26 remaining glaciers and 130 named lakes under the tall Rocky Mountain peaks. There are historic hotels and a landmark road in this region of rapidly receding glaciers. These mountains, formed by an overthrust, have the world's best sedimentary fossils from the Proterozoic era.
Alaska: This place has has numerous tidewater glaciers, mountains, and fjords. The temperate rainforest and the bay are home to grizzly bears, mountain goats, whales, seals, and eagles. When discovered in 1794 by George Vancouver, the entire bay was covered by ice, but the glaciers have receded over 65 miles.
Arizona: This wide canyon, carved out by the Colorado River, is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 1 mile (1.6 km) deep, and up to 15 miles (24 km) wide. Millions of years of exposure has formed colorful layers of the Colorado Plateau in mesas and canyon walls.
Wyoming: This is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. The park's Jackson Hole valley and reflective piedmont lakes contrast with the tall mountains, which abruptly rise from the glacial sage-covered valley.
Nevada: Based around Wheeler Peak, this park has 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines, glacial moraines, and the limestone Lehman Caves. It has some of the country's darkest night skies, and there are animal species including Townsend's big-eared bat, Pronghorn, and Bonneville cutthroat trout.
Great Sand Dunes
Colorado: The tallest dunes in North America are up to 750 feet (230 m) tall and neighbor grasslands, shrublands and wetlands. They were formed by sand deposits of the Rio Grande on the San Luis Valley. The park also has alpine lakes, six 13,000-foot mountains, and ancient forests.
Great Smokey Mountains
North Carolina and Tennessee: This is part of the Appalachian Mountains, and here the mountains have a wide range of elevations, making them home to over 400 vertebrate species, 100 tree species, and 5000 plant species. Hiking is the park's main attraction, with over 800 miles of trails, including 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Other activities are fishing, horseback riding, and visiting some of nearly 80 historic structures.
Texas: This park has a mountain of the same name, the highest point in Texas. The scenic McKittrick Canyon full of Bigtooth Maples, part of the Chihuahuan Desert, and a fossilized reef from the Permian.
Hawaii: This volcano on Maui has a very large crater with many cinder cones, Hosmer's Grove of alien trees, and the native Hawaiian Goose. The Kipahulu section has numerous pools with freshwater fish. This National Park has the greatest number of endangered species.
Hawaii: This park on the Big Island protects the Kīlauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, two of the world's most active. Diverse ecosystems of the park range from those at sea level to 13,000 feet.
Arkansas: The only National Park in an urban area, this smallest National Park is based around the natural hot springs that have been managed for public use. Bathhouse Row preserves 47 of these with many beneficial minerals.
Michigan: The largest island in Lake Superior and one of two parks not accessible by road, this least-visited park is a site of isolation and wilderness. It has many shipwrecks, waterways, and hiking trails. The park also includes over 400 smaller islands and the waters up to 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the island. There are only 20 mammal species and it is known for its wolf and moose relationship.
California: Covering parts of the Colorado and Mojave Deserts and the Little San Bernardino Mountains, this is the home of the yucca brevifolia forests. Across great elevation changes are sand dunes, dry lakes, rugged mountains, and granite monoliths.
Alaska: This park on the Alaska Peninsula protects the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, an ash flow formed by the 1912 eruption of Novarupta, as well as the mountain which has the same name. Over 2,000 brown bears come here to catch spawning salmon.
Alaska: Near Seward on the Peninsula of the same name, this park protects the Harding Icefield and at least 38 glaciers and fjords stemming from it. The only area accessible to the public by road is Exit Glacier, while the rest can only be viewed by boat tours.
California: Home to several Giant sequoia groves and the General Grant Tree, the world's second largest, this park also has part of the River of the same name, site of the granite canyon, and San Joaquin River, as well as the Boyden Cave.
Alaska: This valley has 61 miles (98 km) of the river of the same name and three regions of sand dunes. Created by glaciers, the sand dunes can reach 100 feet (30 m) high and 100 °F, and they are the largest dunes in the arctic. Twice a year, half a million caribou migrate through the dunes and across river bluffs that contain ice age fossils. This is the least-visited National Park.
Alaska: The region around this lake has four active volcanoes, including Mount Redoubt, rivers, glaciers, and waterfalls. There are temperate rainforests, a tundra plateau, and three mountain ranges.
California: This is the largest plug dome volcano in the world, and is joined by all three other types of volcanoes in this park: shield, cinder dome, and composite. Other than the volcano, which last erupted in 1915, the park has hydrothermal areas, including fumaroles, boiling pools, and steaming ground, heated by molten rock under the peak.
Kentucky: With 365 miles (587 km) of passageways mapped, this is by far the longest cave system in the world. Cave animals include five bat species, the Kentucky cave shrimp, cave fish, and cave salamanders. Above ground there are rivers, hiking trails, sinkholes, and springs.
Colorado: This area has over 4,000 archaeological sites of the Ancestral Pueblo, who lived here for 700 years. Cliff dwellings built in the 12th and 13th centuries include Cliff Palace, which has 150 rooms and 23 kivas, and the Balcony House, with passages and tunnels.
Washington: This active volcano, is the most prominent peak in the Cascades, and it is covered by 26 named glaciers including Carbon Glacier and Emmons Glacier, the largest in the continental United States. The mountain near the city of Seattle, is popular for climbing, and more than half of the park is covered by subalpine and alpine forests. Paradise on the south slope is one of the snowiest places in the world, and the Longmire visitor center is the start of the Wonderland Trail, which encircles the mountain.
Washington: This complex includes the two units of the National Park and the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. There are numerous glaciers, and popular hiking and climbing areas are Cascade Pass, Mount Shuksan, Mount Triumph, and Eldorado Peak.
Washington: Situated on the peninsula of the same name, this park ranges from Pacific shoreline with tide pools to temperate rainforests to Mount Olympus. These glaciated mMountains overlook the Hoh Rain Forest and Quinault Rain Forest, the wettest area of the continental United States.
Arizona: This portion of the Chinle Formation has a great concentration of 225-million-year-old petrified wood. The surrounding region, the Painted Desert, has eroded red-hued volcanic rock called bentonite. There are also dinosaur fossils and over 350 Native American sites.
California: This park and the co-managed state parks protect almost half of all remaining Coastal Redwoods, the tallest trees on Earth.There are three large river systems in this very seismically active area, and the 37 miles (60 km) of protected coastline have tide pools and seastacks. The prairie, estuary, coast, river, and forest ecosystems have varied animal and plant species.
Colorado: This section of the larger mountain range of the same name has ecosystems varying in elevation from the over 150 riparian lakes to Montane and subalpine forests to the alpine tundra. Large wildlife including mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, and cougars inhabit these igneous mountains and glacier valleys. The fourteener Longs Peak and Bear Lake are popular destinations.
Arizona: Split into the separate Rincon Mountain and Tucson Mountain Districts, the dry Sonoran Desert is still home to much life in six biotic communities. Beyond the namesake cacti, there are barrel cacti, cholla cacti, and prickly pears, as well as Lesser Long-nosed Bats, Spotted Owls, and javelinas.
California: This park protects the Giant Forest, which has the world's largest tree, General Sherman, as well as four of the next nine. It also has over 240 caves, the tallest mountain in the lower 48, Mount Whitney, and the granite dome Moro Rock.
Virginia: The Blue Ridge Mountains here are covered by hardwood forests that are home to tens of thousands of animals. The Skyline Drive and Appalachian Trail run the entire length of this narrow park that has more than 500 miles (800 km) of hiking trails along scenic overlooks and waterfalls of the river of the same name.
North Dakota: This region that enticed and influenced the president whom the park is named for is now a park of three units in the badlands. Besides the former president's historic cabin, there are scenic drives and backcountry hiking opportunities. Wildlife includes American Bison, pronghorns, Bighorn sheep, and wild horses.
US Virgin Islands: The island of Saint John has rich human and natural history. There are Taino archaeological sites and ruins of sugar plantations from Columbus's time. Past the pristine beaches are mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and algal plains.
Minnesota: This park on four main lakes, a site for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, has a history of Ojibwe Native Americans, French fur traders, and a gold rush. Formed by glaciers, this region has tall bluffs, rock gardens, islands and bays, and historic buildings.
South Dakota: This cave is distinctive for its calcite fin formations called boxwork and needle-like growths called frostwork. The cave, which was discovered by the sound of wind coming from a hole in the ground, is the world's densest cave system. Above ground is a mixed-grass prairie with animals such as bison, black-footed ferrets, and prairie dogs.
Wrangell - St. Elias
Alaska: This mountainous land has the convergence of the Alaska, Chugach, and a mountain range whicht he park is named after, which have many of the continent's tallest mountains over 16,000 feet (4,900 m), including Mount Saint Elias. More than 25% of this park of volcanic peaks is covered with glaciers, including the tidewater Hubbard Glacier, piedmont Malaspina Glacier, and valley Nabesna Glacier.
Wyoming, Montana, Idaho: Situated on a volcanic caldera, the first national park in the world has vast geothermal areas such as hot springs and geysers, the best-known being Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring. The yellow-hued canyon of the river which this park is named after has numerous waterfalls, and four mountain ranges run through the park. There are almost 60 mammal species, including the gray wolf, grizzly bear, lynx, bison, and elk.
California: This park has towering cliffs, waterfalls, and sequoias in a diverse area of geology and hydrology. Half Dome and El Capitan rise from the central glacier-formed valley, as does North America's tallest waterfall. Three Giant Sequoia groves and vast wilderness are home to diverse wildlife.
Utah: This geologically unique area has colorful sandstone canyons, high plateaus, and rock towers. Natural arches and exposed formations of the Colorado Plateau make up a large wilderness of four ecosystems.