Largest and Smallest National Parks in America

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53. Wind Cave
>Total land area: 33,971 acres
> Location: South Dakota
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 448,405 — or 0.7% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -26.8%

The Wind Cave National Park, the first cave system in the world designated as a national park, is home to one of the world’s longest caves — at least 149 miles. The park was named for barometric winds at its entrance. Aside from the park’s collection of caves, tourists go for the more than 28,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie.

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52. Bryce Canyon
>Total land area: 35,835 acres
> Location: Utah
> Privately owned land: 3 acres — or 0.01% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 1,464,655 — or 2.2% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -16.1%

Already known for its red and pink striped rock formations, Bryce Canyon takes on another layer of colorful contrast as quaking aspens turn bright yellow against the evergreens and the world’s largest concentration of hoodoos — tall, skinny spires of rock that rise from arid basins.

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51. Carlsbad Caverns
>Total land area: 46,766 acres
> Location: New Mexico
> Privately owned land: 339 acres — or 0.7% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 183,835 — or 0.3% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -58.8%

In the desert of New Mexico lies Carlsbad Caverns National Park. There are more than 100 known caves in the park. Carlsbad Cavern, the park’s most popular attraction and its namesake, was formed between 4 million and 6 million years ago.

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50. Acadia
>Total land area: 49,077 acres
> Location: Maine
> Privately owned land: 821 acres — or 1.7% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 2,669,034 — or 3.9% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -5.1%

Autumn can be busy in Acadia National Park as leaf-peepers flood the roads, but in mid-October the crowds die down and the trees still boast an array of colors. From the wetlands to the rocky shoreline to the mountain peaks, Acadia’s diverse landscape is awash with colors until late October.

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49. Mesa Verde
>Total land area: 52,485 acres
> Location: Colorado
> Privately owned land: 191 acres — or 0.4% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 287,477 — or 0.4% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -47.5%

Mesa Verde National Park houses 600 Pueblo cliff dwellings that were occupied between A.D. 600 and 1300. They’re some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the country. In the autumn the park turns fiery red with gambel oak foliage, especially at the lower elevations near the park’s entrance.

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48. Mammoth Cave
>Total land area: 54,012 acres
> Location: Kentucky
> Privately owned land: 1,194 acres — or 2.2% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 290,392 — or 0.4% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -48.8%

Though known for its massive cavern, Mammoth Cave National Park also contains woodlands and rolling hills that provide for a classic deciduous forest color display in November. The park is much less crowded than other Southern parks, though it sees a high number of non-recreational visitors (researchers, commuters, conference attendees).

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47. Dry Tortugas
>Total land area: 64,701 acres
> Location: Florida
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 48,543 — or 0.1% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -31.5%

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46. Theodore Roosevelt
>Total land area: 70,447 acres
> Location: ND
> Privately owned land: 690 acres — or 1.0% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 551,303 — or 0.8% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -5.0%

A drive along the Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit Scenic Byway is sure to dazzle, as the banks of the Little Missouri River are lined with aspens that blaze orange and yellow in autumn. Wildlife is abundant among the prairies, buttes, and sandstone spires that make up the park.

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45. New River Gorge
>Total land area: 72,186 acres
> Location: Washington
> Privately owned land: 13,724 acres — or 19.1% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 1,054,374 — or 1.6% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -10.6%

Officially the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, the area was designated as a national park in 2020, making it the newest addition to the NPS system of national parks. No one is sure about when the region, which covers more than 70,000 acres of land along the New River, was formed, though experts agree it was at least 3 million years ago, though some believe it is over 320 million years old.

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44. Arches
>Total land area: 76,679 acres
> Location: Utah
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 1,238,083 — or 1.8% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -11.5%

Arches National Park has more than 2,000 stone arches but the 65-foot tall Delicate Arch, the largest free-standing in the park, is by far the most famous and popular attraction. The trail to see it is 3 miles round trip and climbs 480 feet.