Largest and Smallest National Parks in America

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43. Great Basin
>Total land area: 77,180 acres
> Location: Nevada
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 120,248 — or 0.2% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 3.6%

Aspens along Wheeler Peak scenic drive provide fall color amid a backdrop of bare mountains and evergreen forest in this eastern Nevada national park. Home to the Lehman Caves and some of the oldest trees on earth, the bristlecone pines, this lesser-known national park is a hidden gem.

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42. Guadalupe Mountains
>Total land area: 86,367 acres
> Location: Texas
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 151,256 — or 0.2% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -10.8%

The Guadalupe Peak may be the highest point in Texas now, but 265 million years ago, the mountains were under water and part of an elaborate coral reef that stretched about 400 miles. Humans have inhabited the area for more than 10,000 years, though the area is now very remote.

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41. Saguaro
>Total land area: 92,867 acres
> Location: Arizona
> Privately owned land: 1,644 acres — or 1.8% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 762,226 — or 1.1% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 1.2%

The Saguaro National Park is well known for its preservation and abundance of cacti. The park is home to the country’s largest cacti, a symbol of the American West. The park is just northwest of Tucson, making it one of few national parks that border a big city. It has expanded since its official designation as a national park in 1994 after people have made several land donations.

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40. Lassen Volcanic
>Total land area: 106,589 acres
> Location: California
> Privately owned land: 84 acres — or 0.1% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 542,274 — or 0.8% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 15.8%

In addition to four types of volcanoes — shield, plug dome, composite, and cinder cone — Lassen Volcanic National Park also has oak, aspen, and sagebrush that turn golden in autumn. Head to Manzanita Lake for a colorful view in front of Lassen Peak, a 10,457-foot active volcano that last erupted in 1914.

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39. Great Sand Dunes
>Total land area: 107,342 acres
> Location: Colorado
> Privately owned land: 12,614 acres — or 11.8% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 461,532 — or 0.7% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 54.1%

With a backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and Medano Creek running through the valley, Great Sand Dunes National Park is more than just sand. It is a prime viewing spot for the aspen, sumac, and cottonwood foliage, which peak through mid-October.

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38. Redwood
>Total land area: 138,999 acres
> Location: California
> Privately owned land: 151 acres — or 0.1% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 265,177 — or 0.4% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -49.7%

Getting to Redwood National Park requires a scenic drive along California’s coastal Route 101, so keep an eye out for migratory birds, gray whales, seals, and sea lions. Once you’re in the park, you can witness some of the tallest, oldest, and largest coastal redwoods.

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37. White Sands
>Total land area: 146,344 acres
> Location: New Mexico
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 415,383 — or 0.6% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -16.5%

The White Sands National Park is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. Gypsum is rarely seen as sand, as it dissolves in water, but New Mexico’s dry climate has preserved the dunes. The pure white sand mounds stretch for 275 square miles near Alamogordo.

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36. Zion
>Total land area: 147,243 acres
> Location: Utah
> Privately owned land: 3,444 acres — or 2.3% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 3,591,254 — or 5.3% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -1.6%

The red sandstone canyons and cliffs that Zion is famous for only become more picturesque as autumn colors engulf the lowlands and river flats. Late October is a great time to view the foliage, when crowds are thin and temperatures are comfortable. A free shuttle bus ride down the Zion Canyon Scenic Byway — which is closed to private vehicles through November, when the shuttle stops running — is one of the best ways to easily take in the scenery.

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35. Biscayne
>Total land area: 172,971 acres
> Location: Florida
> Privately owned land: 360 acres — or 0.2% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 402,770 — or 0.6% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -20.7%

Biscayne National Park, located in southern Florida, includes coral reefs and islands that are accessible only by boat. The park, which is 95% water, covers over 250 square miles of open water. The underwater Maritime Heritage Trail links dive sites, most of which are actual shipwrecks.

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34. Crater Lake
>Total land area: 183,224 acres
> Location: Oregon
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 670,500 — or 1.0% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 9.1%

The deepest lake in the United States, Crater Lake was formed just 7,700 years ago during a volcanic eruption. The waters are incredibly blue and clean and create a marvelous backdrop for the fiery foliage visible in autumn. Be sure to come in by mid-October before snow starts to accumulate.