National parks are one of America’s greatest and environmentally worthwhile achievements. As many know, the first national park to be established—likely one of the first in the world—was Yellowstone National Park in 1872. This stunning park covers over 2.2million acres and is located primarily in Wyoming. President Theodore Roosevelt would expand upon this creation and establish five additional national parks and 18 more national monuments.
63 national parks are available for visitors in the United States today. There are many other natural wonders and sites that are worthy of federal park status, but they are not protected under the National Park System. Since there are so many amazing natural wonders in the U.S. and not enough space to list them all, we’ll focus on states that currently do not have a national park but definitely have a contender.
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10 Mobile-Tensaw Delta Alabama
Mobile-Tensaw Delta is one of the most biodiverse places in the United States, despite being the least known. It has been called America’s Amazon. The area is the second-largest delta in the U.S.—after the Mississippi. It is home to one of the largest concentrations of different species of turtles in the world. Scientists suspect that there may still be flora or fauna in the area. waiting to be discovered.
It is home to many natural wonders as well as historical sites that have been lost and covered up by the vast swampland. For example, it was the site of the last major battle of the Civil War, fought at Fort Blakely after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. It also has one of the most significant Native American mounds discovered on the Gulf Coast. Unfortunately, the area will not be designated a National Park anytime soon. A 2016 push to include the area in the National Park System has failed.
9 Smoky Hills in Kansas
Kansas is commonly associated with flat prairies. But the state is also home canyons and rivers. The Smoky hills region in the northern-central part of Kansas was formed during Cretaceous Period. It contains craggy canyons as well streams made up of limestone, chalk, and sandstone.
The area has a rich geological history and some unusual rock formations like mushroom rock. Kanopolis State Park. The area’s rolling hills, canyons, and wetlands are definitely usually overlooked when one thinks about Kansas. If the state were to grant a national park designation, this area would certainly be in contention.
8 Natchez Trace, Mississippi & Tennessee
Though administered by the National Park Service, the 444-mile Natchez Trace Trail that meanders through Mississippi and north into Tennessee is technically considered a “parkway.” Visitors can drive, bike, or hike along the road and the surrounding forests, which follow a trail used for centuries by Native Americans and then early settlers.
Thomas Jefferson, an ex-President, widened this corridor to link Natchez (Mississippi) to Nashville and to encourage expansion. The original trail even has a marker for Meriwether Lewis’ grave (of the Lewis and Clark Expedition fame). Mississippi could probably convince the National Park Service, if it wanted, to create a national parks around the historic parkway.
7 The Adirondacks in New York
The Adirondacks, located in upstate New York, is a region that contains more than 30,000 miles of streams and rivers. The state administers the park. While you may have heard about the area, did know that the park is more than Yellowstone, Glacier and the Everglades combined?
Nearly half of the park’s land is owned by the state and just over 55% are private. All land within the park, including private, must follow strict development rules to preserve the park. Nearly 2,000 miles of hiking trails can be enjoyed along with other outdoor adventures. The area is surrounded by small towns and farmland and boasts many historic sites, including forts and museums and even the Olympic Center at Lake Placid.
6 The Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
There are 22 islands around Bayfield Peninsula on Lake Superior. Twenty-one of these islands belong to a Wisconsin national lakeshore. These islands span 720 miles (Link11), offering adventurers caves, miles of coastline and 108 miles of forest and land to hike.
These islands, which look like jewels, mark the northern limits of hardwood-white Pine. The area is home to endangered American marten, bald eagles, and black bears. The islands offer breathtaking views of one of America’s most beautiful Great Lakes, no matter what season.
5 Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands
The Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands is essentially a collection consisting of three national grasslands and two national forests that start in Nebraska and extend into South Dakota.
One area of this vast forest covers about 90,000 acres. This is actually the largest hand-planted forestThe world. Yeah, that’s right, much of this forest was planted by humans. A member of the University of Nebraska suggested in 1890 that the federal government plant trees to stop erosion and provide habitat for wildlife. It also provides lumber for the locals.
It was apparently a good idea by the federal government, who established a test plot of land one year later that has grown into today’s forest. While not technically “natural,” it makes one wonder what kind of positive precedent for the future it would set to elevate this area into national park status.
4 Hammersley Wild Area in Pennsylvania
This wild area covers almost 30,000 acres and is one of the most beautiful forested areas in Pennsylvania. The brochure even warns those looking to hike the area to carry topographic maps as getting lost here could “have serious consequences.”
It is home to both old-growth and hardwood forests. But, what’s more remarkable is the absence of them. Hammersley is completely undeveloped, so you will only hear the wild sounds of the wilderness while hiking or camping.
3 Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana
Located in north-central Louisiana, Kisatchie National Forest is over 600,000 acres and contains old-growth pine—the type that used to cover most of the southeast U.S. It was featured even on America the Beautiful quarter seriesThis highlighted many national parks and other natural resources in America.
The forest is home to over 100 bird species, Louisiana black bears, and wild horses escaped from Louisiana. Almost logged completely in the early twentieth century, the area is named after a local tribe of Kichai Native Americans, who called themselves “Kitsatchie.” The park offer camping (both in camps and more primitive), fishing, hunting, hiking, and numerous other outdoor adventures to keep everyone busy.
2 The Green Mountains, Vermont
Green Mountains National Forest, another forest on the list, could easily be elevated into National Park status. The park covers approximately 400,000 acres and 550 miles. It was established in 1932.
The area the forest gets its name from—the Green Mountains—is part of the Appalachian Mountain chain. They run north-south through Vermont’s center and include peaks that rise to more than 3,000 feet. The national forest was established in order to protect many of these majestic peaks and their hardwoods. With its diverse vegetation and focus on forest stewardship, the park—along with its sister park, the Finger Lakes National Park in New York—functions as a research and educational center. You can also enjoy a variety of recreational activities along its many trails.
1 Atchafalaya, Louisiana
The last area on our list, the Atchafalaya Basin, is the country’s largest swamp. It covers almost one million acres, and it stretches 140 miles to reach the Gulf of Mexico. It is located in Louisiana and is home the largest population of bald Eagles in the southern U.S.
The basin has the largest contiguous hardwood tree forest in the United States and is home to a variety of wildlife. Situated west of New Orleans, the basin would probably be covered by the ever-changing Mississippi River by now if it weren’t for controls put in place along the northern edge of the basin. The basin is able to absorb about 30% of the Mississippi River water as it flows into Gulf. The waters provide vital habitat for more than 300 species and 100 aquatic species as well as a rich variety native plant diversity.
There are many activities you can do while in this bayou: paddling, biking or golfing, birding or camping. Oh, and don’t forget a swamp tour!