Largest and Smallest National Parks in America

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33. Shenandoah
>Total land area: 199,224 acres
> Location: Virginia
> Privately owned land: 791 acres — or 0.4% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 1,666,265 — or 2.5% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 26.1%

Shenandoah National Park, which covers nearly 200,000 acres of forests and mountains, extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Two of the biggest attractions of the park are the Skyline Drive — the only public road through the park — and a network of hiking trails that includes 101 miles of the famous Appalachian Trail.

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32. Voyageurs
>Total land area: 218,222 acres
> Location: Minnesota
> Privately owned land: 1,038 acres — or 0.5% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 263,091 — or 0.4% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 10.4%

Voyageurs National Park contains over 500 islands and 655 miles of shoreline. The park is over 40% water, so be prepared to bring a boat or sign up for a boat tour. Alternatively, leave your car behind and take an inland hike to view the foliage from within the forest. Voyageurs is also an excellent place to observe the night sky and see the Milky Way and occasionally the Northern Lights.

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31. Petrified Forest
>Total land area: 221,390 acres
> Location: Arizona
> Privately owned land: 38,345 acres — or 17.3% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 384,483 — or 0.6% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -51.5%

Petrified wood is the product of trees completely turning into stone. Geologists, paleontologists, and historians have visited the park many times to study the fossils that date back to prehistoric times.

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30. Mount Rainier
>Total land area: 236,382 acres
> Location: Washington
> Privately owned land: 26 acres — or 0.01% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 1,160,754 — or 1.7% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -6.2%

From mid-October into November, Mount Rainier National Park is awash with autumn colors. Huckleberries, vine maples, and willows create rainbows of color, while tamaracks, one of the few coniferous trees that drop their leaves before winter, turn gold among the evergreens. Some of the best places to see the foliage are Chinook Pass, Reflection Lakes, and Grove of the Patriarchs.

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29. Capitol Reef
>Total land area: 241,905 acres
> Location: Utah
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 981,038 — or 1.4% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 4.3%

Although much of Capitol Reef National Park consists of barren, towering geologic formations, the cottonwood groves along the Fremont River turn yellow against the red sandstone in early November. A unique perk of visiting Capitol Reef in autumn is the opportunity to pick your own apples at the historic Fruita Orchard within the park.

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28. Badlands
>Total land area: 242,756 acres
> Location: South Dakota
> Privately owned land: 8,908 acres — or 3.7% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 916,932 — or 1.3% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -7.3%

The badlands are a trademark of the West. A 40-mile road trip along the Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway is a good way to experience the area. You’ll witness ancient rock formations, cliffs, and colorful spires. The best viewpoints include Big Badlands Overlook, Pinnacles Overlook, and Yellow Mounds Overlook.

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27. Channel Islands
>Total land area: 249,561 acres
> Location: California
> Privately owned land: 45,988 acres — or 18.4% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 167,290 — or 0.2% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -48.5%

Channel Islands National Park includes five islands off southern California, not far from Los Angeles. One of the Channel Islands, San Miguel, is the only known place in the world where four different species of seals and sea lions breed.

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26. Rocky Mountain
>Total land area: 265,807 acres
> Location: Colorado
> Privately owned land: 193 acres — or 0.1% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 3,305,199 — or 4.9% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -20.5%

Rocky Mountain National Park is full of hiking trails, 355 miles of them to be exact. If hiking isn’t for you, you can still witness the mountainous terrain through your car window. The roads wind along lowland meadows, rivers, all the way up to the subalpine forests. By the end of your journey, you will have ascended 12,000 feet and taken in a great deal of nature.

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25. Grand Teton
>Total land area: 310,044 acres
> Location: Wyoming
> Privately owned land: 883 acres — or 0.3% of total park
> Recreation visits in 2020: 3,289,638 — or 4.8% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: 4.4%

Grand Teton National Park has had human inhabitants for at least 11,000 years, when the last glaciers from the ice age melted. Philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was a great fan of the park’s peaks, lakes and valleys, and a 24,000-acre parcel was dedicated to his memory.

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24. Hawaii Volcanoes
>Total land area: 325,605 acres
> Location: Hawaii
> Privately owned land: 0 acres
> Recreation visits in 2020: 589,775 — or 0.9% of all NP visits
> 5-year change in visits: -67.8%

The mission of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is to protect, conserve, study volcanic landscapes, and to permit safe public access to active volcanoes, diverse geographic settings, and wilderness. The park includes two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.