Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the United States.
Many of the first national parks in the United States have been in existence for more than a century. These parks are under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (NPS). Established in 1916, this federal agency now manages over 375 parks, monuments and other conservation and historical properties. Since its inception, it is the NPS’ mandate to develop the national parks’ campgrounds, trails and scenic vistas and protect the parks’ flora and fauna.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park was the first-ever national park in the United States and the world. It was established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by U.S. President Ulysses Grant in 1872. Most of the park is located in Wyoming, but it also extends through Idaho and Montana. Yellowstone is renowned for its rich flora and fauna, large subalpine forest and vast ecosystems. Often described as America’s most iconic park, it is notable for its varying geothermal features including its most famous landmark, Old Faithful Geyser.
Mackinac Island State Park
The Mackinac Island State Park was first established as the Mackinac National Park in 1875. It was the second national park established in the United States. However, in 1895, it was given back to the state of Michigan, which led to its present name, Mackinac Island State Park. After the turnover, it officially became the first state park in Michigan. Currently, this Michigan state park showcases a number of historical attractions including Fort Mackinac, Fort Holmes and other historic structures. It is also home to key geological features in the region including limestone caves and other unique rock formations.
Sequoia National Park
Established in 1890, the Sequioa National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains is the second-oldest existing national park in the United States. The park is famous for its towering sequoia trees, found on soaring mountain peaks and along cascading creeks. The park features five of the ten largest trees in the world in terms of wood volume, including the President Tree, the Lincoln Tree and the General Sherman Tree. The General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world, with a height of 275 feet and a trunk volume of 52,500 cubic feet. These giant trees are primarily located in the Giant Forest, a famed region of the Sequoia National Park found in the western Sierra Nevada.
Yosemite National Park
Central California’s Yosemite National Park is the third-oldest existing national park in the United States. Although established in 1890 as a national park, preservation efforts for Yosemite can be traced back to the times of Abraham Lincoln, who signed a law to guarantee the land’s protection in 1864. This protection led to the establishment of the national parks system decades later. Yosemite features distinct granite cliffs favored by many rock climbers, especially El Capitan, acknowledged as a rock climbing mecca towering more than 3,500 feet above sea level. Yosemite’s giant sequoia groves and stunning waterfalls are popular destinations for hikers, bikers and camping families.