One hundred years ago, America established the National Parks Service with the believe that wilderness was essential and had to be preserved. Our country is now lucky enough to have 59 amazing refuges of nature across the country that include the grandest canyon, the most spectacular geothermal site, miles of coastline not to mention the reddest and tallest of trees.
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act that created the NPS, a new federal bureau in the Department of Interior.
In honor of the NPS centennial, we’ve put together 15 cool, interesting facts about our country’s national parks with the help of Lonely Planet.
Joshua Tree National Park
8,000 - Of course, there’s all those weirdly beautiful-each one unique-Joshua trees, but rock climbers would be in heaven here.
There are 8,000 rock climbing routes in California’s Joshua Tree National Park.
Olympic National Park
73 - Olympic National Park in Washington state has 73 miles of wilderness coastline.
Great Smoky Mountains
907 - A whopping 907 new plant and animal species have been discovered in the Great Smoky Mountains.
**Bonus fact: The Great Smoky Mountains, straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, is the most visited national park in the U.S. with 10,712,674 visitors in 2015.
2 - Yellowstone is often thought of as our nation’s first national park, created by an act of Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses Grant on March 1,1872, but it is actually no. 2.
According to the Lonely Planet folks, it was beat out by Hot Springs Reservation, the predecessor of Hot Springs National Park, thanks to President Andrew Jackson in 1832. It’s confusing because Hot Springs isn’t what most people think of as a national park.
15 - The maximum adult size for alligators in the Florida Everglades is 15 foot. So tread carefully in that beautiful stretch of land.
Biscayne National Park
44 - There are 44 documented shipwrecks in Biscayne National Park.
So if you’re a shipwreck fanatic this is the place in Florida to go.
Glacier National Park
1500 - Sure, you can see glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana, but did you know the park is home to 1500 mountain goats as well? Someone has to drink all that glacial water.
Wrangell-St Elias National Park
20,625 - Wrangell-St Elias National Park in Alaska is the largest of our national parks with a total of 20,625 sq miles.
For some perspective, that makes it larger than 9 of the smallest states in the U.S.
Hot Springs National Park
8.6 - Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is the smallest national park at 8.6 sq miles.
Redwood National Park - California
379.1 - Is the height in feet of Hyperion-the world’s tallest living tree, which can be found in Redwood National Park in California.
Lake Clark National Park
0 - There are 0 roads in this Alaska park. No problem for this Coastal Brown Bear sow and her two spring cubs or rugged folks who really want to get away from it all.
2 - The age of the oldest rocks (Vishnu Schist) in the immense Grand Canyon, is 2 billion years.
5 - Hard to imagine but there are 5 trillion gallons of water in Crater Lake, which Lonely Planet describes as born of “astonishing geological violence,” the eruption of Mt. Mazama some 7,700 years ago. (We gave you two facts for the price of one there)
America's national parks
There’s more fun facts and practical info available through Lonely Planet, the travel guide folks, in a new book, National Parks: Experience America’s 59 National Parks.