When it comes to National Parks, a little over half of the states have at least one. Specifically, 29 states in the U.S. have at least one National Park. But did you know that some states have three or more National Parks? But, which state has the most national parks?
California leads the country, with a total of nine. Following behind is Alaska with eight, Utah with five, Colorado with four, and Arizona, Florida, and Washington State tied with three parks each.
Wondering what National Parks are in these states and what they have to offer? In this article, we’ll discuss the following topics:
- Which U.S. State has the most National Parks?
- Maps of California’s three most visited National Parks
- What five states have the most NPs?
Which U.S. State has the most National Parks?
With a whopping total of 9 National Parks, California holds the title for the state with the most. The diversity of each National Park in California is immense. You’ll find beauty in the lush evergreen Redwood forests in the Coastal Northwest part of the State, all the way down to the sprawling desert conditions of Joshua Tree National Park.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is the State’s most visited National Park. Nearly 3.3 million people visited Yosemite in 2021. This Park is famous for many reasons. It is one of the most beautiful places in the country and the world.
Towering granite rock cliffs of Half Dome and El Capitan sit upon the landscape. The valley floor is dotted with massive Sequoia trees. Rushing waterfalls cascade thousands of feet from the mountains to the rivers below. It is truly a sight to behold.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree is a one-of-a-kind landscape located in the Mojave Desert. Of course, the Park is best known for the famous “Joshua Trees” that grow there. The spikey, twisted trees are unmistakable. Joshua trees aren’t actual “trees” at all. Believe it or not, they are in the Agave family.
Redwood National and State Parks
Home to the tallest trees on Earth, giant Redwood trees can grow to be over 300 feet tall. The plants, animals, and ecosystem are so important in this unique habitat that it is protected by both the National Parks System and California’s State Park System.
But giant Redwoods are not the only thing the Park protects. Oak woodlands, sprawling prairies, raging rivers, and over 40 miles of rugged Northern California coastline are all protected in the Park’s boundaries.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
This Park lives up to its name and is home to all sorts of volcanic activity. While the crown jewel of the Park, Lassen Peak, is a dormant volcano, the landscape surrounding the Park still shows signs of active volcanism. Here you’ll find sizzling hot springs, steaming sulfur vents, and gurgling mudpots.
The Park is also home to a beautiful forested landscape complete with coniferous forests, wildflowers, snow-capped peaks, and crystal-clear alpine lakes.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is the largest National Park in California. It is the hottest and driest place in the world and has the lowest elevation anywhere in the U.S. Badwater Basin, located in the Park, is 282 feet below sea level!
Death Valley consists of over 3.3 million acres of seemingly endless salt flats, vast sand dunes, and rust-colored canyons and mountains. Despite its name, Death Valley isn’t a lifeless wasteland. The mountains here are coated with snow in the winter. Sparse rainstorms allow blooms of wildflowers to sprout. Springs are home to desert fish and other aquatic species as well.
Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park is one of the Nation’s newer National Parks, established in 2013. It also has low visitation numbers when compared to other National Parks. However, there are plenty of sights to see and things to do in the Park.
The habitat here consists of chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms. Towering pinnacle rock tower formations dot the landscape. Visitors may hike on countless trails within the Park, some of which even travel through ancient cave systems.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
These two Parks, while technically separate, are both managed together. Sequoia National Park was established in 1890, while Kings Canyon came around in 1940. These two Parks are home to massive mountains, deep canyons, expansive caverns, and majestic Sequoia trees.
Sequoia National Park is home to Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental United States at 14,505 feet. The Park is also the location of the infamous “General Sherman” Sequoia tree, the world’s largest tree by trunk volume.
Channel Islands National Park
This is one of those few National Parks seemingly untouched by man. Channel Islands consists of eight islands off the State’s Southern Coast that gives visitors a feel for what Old California was like before cities and towns spread across the State.
You won’t find hotels, gift shops, or fast food joints anywhere in this Park. Instead, you’ll be surrounded by outstanding natural scenery like pristine beaches and other-worldly sea caves.
You may also catch a glimpse of some endemic wildlife, such as California sea lions, various seal species, nesting sea birds, dolphin species, Orcas, island foxes, and spotted skunks. Visitors enjoy hiking, diving, kayaking, snorkeling, fishing, and swimming within the Park.
Maps of California
Below are some maps of three of California’s most famous National Parks.
What five states have the most National Parks?
As stated, California is the state with the most NPs having nine total., which are:
- Lassen Volcanic
- Death Valley
- Kings Canyon
- Channel Islands
The state of Alaska comes in at a close second, having eight National Parks. Among these are:
- Kenai Fjords
- Wrangell-St. Elias
- Gates of the Arctic
- Kobuk Valley
- Lake Clark
- Glacier Bay
Utah is third on this list, as it has five National Parks. They are commonly referred to as Utah’s “Mighty Five.” These Parks include:
In fourth place is the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado, as it has four National Parks, including:
Arizona, Florida, and Washington
These three states are all tied in fifth place with one another as they each have three National Parks each:
Arizona’s National Parks include:
- Grand Canyon
- Petrified Forest
Florida’s National Parks include:
- Dry Tortugas
Washington’s National Parks include:
- Mount Rainier
- North Cascades
Ultimately, if you live in a state like California, you’re lucky to have access to a plethora of National Parks. Visiting all nine dispersed throughout the state would make for an excellent road trip!
States like Alaska, Utah, Colorado, Florida, Washington, and Arizona also have no shortage of National Parks. Have you visited any of these states with so many parks?
Want a complete list and recap of all our US National Parks as well as free downloadable maps and other great resources? Check out our US National Parks List and Map guide!