5 Largest US National Parks in the Lower 48 States

The US National Park System (NPS) has a long history of protecting and preserving our nations natural wonders. It’s origins trace as far back as 1864 and live on via the 423 individual parks/units the NPS manages today. This chart shows the 5 largest US National Parks in the lower 48 states.

America’s conservation movement has its roots in the manifest destiny concept. As settlers traversed west they discovered the incredible sites and wonders the lands held. Writers and travelers at the time such as John Muir brought back and shared these sights with the American public, capturing the public’s attention and wonder.

The first traces of the modern national park system date back to 1864. In this year President Abraham Lincoln signed an act to protect the and preserve land in the Yosemite valley in California. This was the first time federal land had been set aside for public use. Before this, the precedent had been to sell these lands to private stakeholders for commercial development.

5 Largest US National Parks in the Lower 48 States

5 Largest US National Parks in Lower 48 States chart

Following this act Yellowstone National Park was incorporated in 1872 as the first national park in the US – and entire world. Though others soon followed, all the early national parks were administered independently. There was no federal agency to fund or look after the parks. Thus, in some cases, the military established bases in or near the parks to maintain and protect the lands.

President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act in 1906 which further bolstered the national park efforts. This act gave presidents the authority to declare land as national monuments to preserve natural wonders of historic sites.

With the expanding amount of federal lands set aside for public use, organization of this land was needed. In 1916 Woodrow Wilson officially created the NPS to administer and conserve America’s natural wonders and historic sites.

The 5 largest of these parks in the lower 48 states are as follows (with state and year incorporated):

  • Death Valley – California – 1994 (though it was national monument in 1933)
  • Yellowstone – Wyoming (and minor parts of two other states) – 1872
  • Everglades – Florida – 1934
  • Grand Canyon – Arizona – 1919
  • Glacier – Montana – 1910


Source: National Park Obsessed

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