We’ve been working on our ‘Find Your Adventure’ series marking the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service for the past year, and have come upon quite a few remarkable factoids in the process.
Now that that birthday is finally here (the National Park Service was formed by an act of Congress on August 25, 1916), we thought we’d celebrate it by sharing some of these underappreciated gems with you:
The National Park Service watches over 412 separate units totaling approximately 84 million acres, an area about the size of Germany.
In 1904 – the first year attendance records were kept – the number of visitors to all national parks combined was just 120,690. By 2015 that number had jumped to a record-setting 307 million visitors.
The world’s first national park was Yellowstone which received protection in 1872. The most recent addition to the National Park Service’s oversight? Stonewall National Monument in New York, which was protected in June 2016.
California and Alaska tie for having the most national parks at eight each.
The most visited park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, greeted nearly twice the number of visitors (10.7 million) as runner-up Grand Canyon National Park (5.5 million).
The deepest lake in the United States is in Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park. Located in what’s left of an ancient volcano, it bottoms out at 1,943 feet, deep enough to submerge the new World Trade Center with room left over.
Mammoth Cave National Park is the world’s longest cave with more that 400 miles of underground passages mapped so far.
Whether you’re headed out to a specific park or just want to play armchair traveler, you can find maps of every national park in the U.S. at the National Park Service’s website.
f you’re looking for a deep dive into everything you ever wanted to know about the national parks, check out the National Parks Index. For quicker reference, follow this link to find a comprehensive list of National Park Service units.
Perhaps the most fascinating fact of all? Admission to all National Park Service units is FREE from August 25-28!