18 Things You Didn’t Know About National Parks

National Parks and monuments are amazing places to visit. These fun facts will prepare you for any future trips.

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Utah is home to five national parks, five national historic sites or trails, and six national monuments. Idaho touts several more parks, monuments, and national trails, and even houses part of Yellowstone National Park.

Combine these with other recreational opportunities like skiing, hiking, and camping, and as a result, millions of tourists visit Utah and Idaho each year. 

The benefits that come from the tourism industry have been noticed all over the state—especially in rural areas. “The growth of Utah’s tourism industry over the past decade has improved rural economies, stimulated entrepreneurship and small-business development, in turn strengthening our rural communities,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. 

National parks and monuments are fun to visit and often full of fun facts and trivia. Here are 18 things that may surprise you about national parks or monuments.


  • The President of the United States decides what becomes a national park
  • Congress decides whether or not something is deemed a national monument, or the president by way of the Antiquities Act
  • Yellowstone was named the first national park by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, according to the National Parks Service
  • This year (2016) the National Parks Service turns 100 years old (okay maybe you knew this one)
  • Of all the national parks and sites, Teddy Roosevelt has the most name after him; Abraham Lincoln is a close second, according to nationalparks.org
  • Park rangers wear uniforms that evolved from prototypes designed by the U.S. Army Cavalry
  • Roy Sullivan, a former park ranger at Shenandoah National Park, was struck by lightning seven times during his career—he survived them all, according to the Washington Post
  • Mount McKinley is the highest peak in the U.S. and resides in Denali National Park in Alaska
  • The Colorado River is 277 miles in length—it runs through the Grand Canyon National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park was established twice—originally in 1929 to protect the peaks and again in 1950 to include much of the valley
  • Arches National Park preserves more than 2,000 unusual rock formations and arches
  • Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is home to the longest cave system in the world
  • Joshua Tree National Park has hundreds of earthquake fault lines
  • A dinosaur footprint was found in Denali National Park in 2005
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the U.S., with more than double the visitors of Grand Canyon National Park each year
  • Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is home to the deepest lake in the U.S.

  • Great Sand Dunes National Park was established in 2002 and is the newest national park—it has the biggest sand dunes in North America and is located in Colorado
  • The smallest national park—Hot Springs National Park—covers just over 5,000 acres and resides in central Arkansas




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