When you start visiting the U.S national parks the list of 62 national parks can be daunting. There are a lot of national parks and they are spread out across 28 states and 2 US territories. The best way to keep track of your process thru the United States National Parks is with a United States National Park Checklist. Get your FREE downloadable copy of this list of National Parks by state HERE.
This printable list of national parks was updated on December 2019, to included the elevation of White Sands National Monument to White Sands National Park.
Here at National Park Obsessed, we are offering newsletter subscribers several checklists US National Park Checklists. The National Parks Checklists PDF’s will be delivered to your email box.
- 62nd National Parks Checklist
- 61st National Parks Checklist (with Indiana Dunes but without Gateway Arch)
- 60th National Parks Checklist
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How many National Parks are there in United States?
If you are talking about places with “National Park” in their name, there are 62 National Parks in the United States. If you are talking about sites managed by the National Park Service (NPS) there are 419 National Park Service Units. The National Parks Service Units have titles like National Monuments, National Historical Parks, National Memorials, National Battlefields and about a half dozen other titles.
What is the difference between a National Park and National Parks Service Unit? The short story is nothing other than a name and how it was created. According to NPS, all units managed by them are the same and they consider there to be 419 national parks under their control.
The long story is that a unit’s title comes down to how it is created. The Antiquities Act of 1906, gives the United States President enormous powers for “… the protection of objects of historic and scientific interest.” They have the right to declare by proclamation any land owned or controlled by the federal government a National Monument. But this act doesn’t give the President the power to created National Parks or any other designation. The other designations such as National Park take an act of Congress.
Take for example White Sands National Park, in 1933 President Herbert Hoover created White Sands National Monument. In 2019, it was elevated to a National Park via the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.
Every unit within the National Parks Service system is a gem in its own right and well worth a visit. That being said, the National Parks are the massive central gemstones of collections (with a few exceptions, I’m looking at you Gateway Arch).
I personally consider there to be 62 National Parks and 419 national parks. When I am talking about those parks with the designation National Park, I capitalize the words National Park. When I am talking to the system as a whole, I use national parks. This is a my personal opinion and my personal choice.
Why more than one National Park Checklist?
There are currently 62 National Parks according to the National Park Service, but the 60th is rather controversial. The 60th National Park is Gateway Arch National Park in Saint Louis, Missouri. This park is a 90-acre park in the middle of a city that is mostly made of concrete. Due to politics, this hunk of concrete has the same status as Denali, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. For this reason, I, Jennifer the founder of National Park Obsessed, refuse to consider Gateway Arch a real national park. It does belong in the National Park system but as a National Memorial.
Since I and many others don’t consider this a park, we are offering printable list of the national parks without Gateway Arch National Park. One checklist included Gateway Arch National Park and one does not. When you sign up for our monthly newsletter, you will be emailed a link to both of these checklists. You are welcome to download and print as many copies as you would like.
List of All 62 National Parks
- Learn more about Denali National Park
- Gates of the Arctic
- Glacier Bay
- Kenai Fjords
- Kobuk Valley
- Lake Clark
- Wrangell-St. Elias
- American Samoa
- Grand Canyon
- Petrified Forest
- Hot Springs
- Learn more about Hot Springs National Park
- Channel Islands
- Death Valley
- Joshua Tree
- Learn more about Joshua Tree National Park
- Kings Canyon
- Lassen Volcanic
- Black Canyon of Gunnison
- Great Sand Dunes
- Mesa Verde
- Rocky Mountain
- Dry Tortugas
- Hawaii Volcanoes
- Indiana Dunes
- Mammoth Cave
- Isle Royale
- Gateway Arch
- Death Valley
- Great Basin
- Carlsbad Caverns
- White Sands
- Theodore Roosevelt
North Carolina / Tennessee
- Great Smoky Mountains
- Cuyahoga Valley
- Crater Lake
- Wind Cave
- Big Bend
- Guadalupe Mountains
- Bryce Canyon
- Learn all about Bryce Canyon National Park
- Capitol Reef
- Virgin Islands
- Mount Rainier
- Learn more about Mount Rainier National Park
- North Cascades
- Grand Teton
- Learn more about Grand Teton National Park
- Learn more about Yellowstone National Park