8 surprising facts about America's national parks

  • Girl in Yellowstone

Often called 'America's Best Idea', the national parks are among the best places our Treks go to in the States.

They are as varied and vast as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, but also as small and unknown as historic homes of old presidents or important sites that defined American history, like the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Here are some surprising facts to learn about these jewels of America before you head off on your tour...

49 states, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the US Virgin Islands all have a national park site within their boundaries. The only state left out is Delaware.

Yellowstone National Park

Photo: Matt Lamberth

The first national parks created anywhere in the world were right here in the USA. It all started back with Yellowstone on March 1, 1872.

Girl at edge of Grand Canyon

Photo: Tessa Smith

At the very bottom of the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River has been carving away layers of rock for 6 million years. The rock layer at the river's edge is called the Vishnu Schist and is around 1.8 billion years old.

Girls jumping in Death Valley

Two parks hold claim to being the highest and lowest elevation points in the USA. In Death Valley at Badwater Basin, you are 282 feet BELOW sea level. Far north in Alaska is Denali National Park and the highest point in the USA is the summit of Denali (Mt McKinley) at 20,237 feet above sea level.

Visit Death Valley

Crater Lake National Park

In Oregon is Crater Lake National park which is the deepest lake in the USA at 1,946 feet and it took an estimated 250 years for enough rain and snowmelt to actually fill the crater to create the lake itself.

The White House

The White House is under the protection of the National Park Service.

Trek America at National Parks

In 1951 the National Park Service adopted the famous arrowhead as their emblem. The imagery of the bison represents wildlife, the Sequoia tree represents flora, the mountain and lake are for recreational activities within the parks and the arrowhead is for the significant cultural and ancestral treasures protected under the National Park Service.

Wrangell-St Elias glacier hike

The largest of all the parks is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in northern Alaska, which covers an area of protected land larger than the country of Switzerland.

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Featured photo: Matt Lamberth

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