Planning your next great adventure? Our United States National Parks contain some of the most fascinating wonders. Some seem to transport you to a new world. Some are full of rich history and intriguing natural science.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of 15 fun facts about some of our gorgeous National Parks. There’s something in this list for everyone - whether you like landscape facts, archeological mystery, or rich human history.
Enjoy! And make sure to grab one of our new National Parks Scratch-Off Posters to help you plan your next National Park destination.
1. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve: Tallest Sand Dunes
This is a beautiful place to visit for any desert fans. This Park has the tallest sand dunes in all of North America. They can reach up to about 750 feet! But that’s not even the coolest part. When the sand dunes are wet, you can sled or snowboard down them. Who said you needed winter to enjoy a winter sport?! It’s all about the desert dunes, baby. Plus, this National Park has no marked trails, so if you’re looking to up the ante on your adventure, this is a great place to start.
2. Kobuk Valley National Park: Least Visited Park
If you’re looking to go off the beaten track, Kobuk Valley is the least visited National Park in North America. Located in Northwestern Alaska, you can’t get there by car or any normal means of transportation. To access it, you have to walk or take a snowmobile. This Park also doesn’t have any marked trails, so gear up for some real backpacking!
3. Mount Ranier National Park: Most Glaciated Peak
Mount Ranier is a true powerhouse of fire and ice. It is the most glaciated mountain peak in the continental United States… on top of the fact that it is an active volcano. Weather the extremes while exploring this remarkable piece of U.S. land.
4. Voyageurs National Park: Oldest Volcanic Rock
Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park is home to some of the oldest volcanic rock on Earth. Here, you can enjoy and interact with rocks that are anywhere from 1 to 3 billion years old!
5. Big Bend National Park: Distant Galaxies
This is the perfect place for lovers of the great cosmos to visit. This Park is so far away from light pollution that the night sky reveals itself in ways virtually unknown to stargazers near civilization. You can see distant stars and even other galaxies here!
6. Yosemite National Park: 3,000-Year-Old Pines
The great Sequoias of Yosemite are one of the more popular destination spots. These 2,000+ year-old trees are known for their gargantuan size. But did you know that their Bristlecone Pines are about 1,000 years older? To give you some perspective, that means these 3,000-year-old pine trees are about as old as Stonehenge!
7. Denali National Park: Tallest North American Mountain
Alaska’s Denali National Park is home to Mount McKinley - the tallest mountain in North America at 20,000 feet. It’s the 3rd most prominent and 3rd most isolated peak in the world, only topped by Everest and Aconcagua.
8. Petroglyph National Monument: Rock Carvings from 10th Century BC
History and anthropology lovers will get a kick out of Boca Negra Petroglyph National Monument. This Park is a major host of New Mexico Native American rock carvings. These carvings are said to date back as old as 3,000 years ago.
9. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument: 45 Million Years of Evolution
Archeology buffs will love this National Monument in the Oregon badlands. Here, you can see the natural progression and evolution of mammals spanning across forty-five million years.
10. Wind Cave National Park: Boxwork Calcite Rock
The Wind Cave is one of the most elaborate systems of caves in the world. It’s known for its intriguing boxwork calcite formations that are rarely found anywhere else in the world.
11. Badwater Basin: 282 Feet Below Sea Level
Located in Death Valley, Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the entire western side of the world. It has a depth of 282 feet below sea level! It contains dense salt flats that render the water undrinkable - yet it is home to some bizarre saltwater creatures such as the Badwater snail.
12. Mammoth Cave National Park: Largest Cave
Mammoth Cave is the largest cave system in the world. The Park is about 53,000 acres long and its walls are primarily formed of limestone and sandstone.
13. Volcano National Park: Rare Species
The Volcano National Park in Hawaii is the habitat of a species of bird that is found nowhere else in the world: the Apapane. These small, red birds are characterized by their intricate birdsong, which contains various melodic trills and chirps.
14. Haleakala National Park: Astronaut Training
This National Park in Maui has been part of an interesting slice of human history. The bizarre volcanic rock formations have such “alien” features that astronauts often use it for training. It was used before the first moon launch and has been frequented for astronaut training ever since.
15. Great Basin National Park: Extreme Climates
Wheeler Peak in Nevada holds some extreme desert weather! Its variance in elevation and its intense temperature increase at nightfall allows you to experience a full climate range between hot desert weather and the arctic tundra - snowfall and all!
Did any of these fun facts capture your attention? Imagine how much more breathtaking the in-person experience of these phenomenons would be! What would it be like to see America’s tallest mountain peak in person? How would it feel to converse with ancient trees? What about traversing terrain so moon-like that the astronauts use it?
We hope you’re itching to find out.
Safe travels and have fun!