Day 2: U.S. States loaded with National Parks

Last Updated on December 21, 2019 by Janet Frost

Welcome to Day 2 of the 12 Days of National Parks. Each day we are exploring some statistics and facts about our National Park Service. Twenty-nine of the 50 states host a National Park. There are some states with vast amounts of wilderness that we would expect to have several National Parks. Yesterday, the #1 Most Popular National Park was the Great Smoky Mountains NP which falls into two states, North Carolina and Tennessee. Today we will look at the states with the most National Parks within their borders.

Let’s Go! Learn Things about States with the most National Parks…


California comes in #1 with nine National Parks. It should come as no surprise that one of their parks is actually designated as a National Seashore. The state of California has 840 miles of Pacific coastline and over 45% or its land is forested. These are some impressive statistics for a state with massive urban sprawl like San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego. The diversity of the nine National Parks in California ranges from the desert of Joshua Tree and Death Valley to the lush forests of Yosemite and Redwoods.

  • Yosemite NP
  • Death Valley NP
  • Joshua Tree NP
  • Redwood NP
  • Channel Islands NP
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP
  • Pinnacles NP
  • Lassen Volcanic NP
  • Point Reyes National Seashore


National Parks Denali NP
Denali during sunset at midnight seen from backcountry Unit 13 on June 14, 2019. Photo Credit NPS

In second place is Alaska with eight National Parks. Alaska is the largest state in the U.S. 88% of Alaska land is set aside as a park, preserve or refuge. Some of these lands are managed by the State but much of it is federally managed through the National Park Service. There are some differences in the usage of lands designated as National Park versus National Preserve. A Preserve is primarily for the protection of certain resources. Activities like hunting and fishing or the extraction of minerals and fuels may be permitted if they do not jeopardize the natural values.

The most recognized National Park is Denali with the 20,000 ft Mt Denali. However, the most popular site is the Klondike National Historic Park in Skagway.

  • Denali NP
  • Gates of the Arctic NP
  • Glacier Bay NP
  • Katmai NP
  • Kenai Fjords NP
  • Kobuk Valley NP
  • Lake Clark NP
  • Wrangell-St. Elias NP


National Parks Bryce Canyon NP
Bryce Canyon NP

Utah is the state we most often think of as being packed with National Parks. They come in at #3 with their “Mighty 5”.

  • Zion NP
  • Bryce Canyon NP
  • Arches NP
  • Capitol Reef NP
  • Canyonlands NP

Learn More: About the Mighty 5 on a Grand Circle Road Trip


National Parks Mesa Verde NP
Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde NP

Colorado is a beautiful state recognized for its majestic mountains. It has a few other interesting landscapes as well. This state boasts four National Parks, everything from mountain peaks to sand dunes.

  • Rocky Mountains NP
  • Mesa Verde NP
  • Great Sand Dune NP
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP

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