National Parks In Order Of Creation

Updated on:

The establishment of national parks was an incredible idea brought to life in U.S. history. Per the National Parks Service, they were established to, “protect special places for visitors’ present and future enjoyment.” The creation of parks have allowed for the preservation of massive amounts of land for past and future generations to enjoy. We created this list to show you how lengthy the history of national parks in the U.S. is and how we continue to add more as the years go on. It all started with the oldest national park, Yellowstone (151 years old) and currently sits at 63 total parks with the newest being New River Gorge (2 years old).

List Of US National Parks By Date (Oldest To Newest)

Note: We used the criteria of a park reaching national park designation as the official date of creation. Many of these parks as you’ll see existed long before they were officially made a national park.

1. Yellowstone National Park

Location: Wyoming

Established: March 1, 1872

2. Sequoia National Park

Location: California

Established: September 25, 1890

3. Yosemite National Park

Location: California

Established: October 1, 1890

4. Mount Rainier National Park

Location: Washington

Established: March 2, 1899

5. Crater Lake National Park

Location: Oregon

Established: May 22, 1902

6. Wind Cave National Park

Location: South Dakota

Established: January 9, 1903

7. Mesa Verde National Park

Location: Colorado

Established: June 29, 1906

8. Glacier National Park

Location: Montana

Established: May 11, 1910

9. Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: Colorado

Established: January 26. 1915

10. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Location: Hawai’i

Established: August 1, 1916

11. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Location: California

Established: August 9, 1916

12. Denali National Park

Location: Alaska

Established: February 26, 1917

13. Katmai National Park

Location: Alaska

Established: September 24, 1918

14. Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Arizona

Established: February 26, 1919

15. Zion National Park

Location: Utah

Established: November 19, 1919

16. Hot Springs National Park

Location: Arkansas

Established: March 4, 1921

17. Bryce Canyon National Park

Location: Utah

Established: February 25, 1928

18. Acadia National Park

Location: Maine

Established: January 19, 1929 (Originally established as Sieur de Monts National Monument on February 26, 1919).

19. Grand Teton National Park

Location: Wyoming

Established: February 26, 1929

20. Arches National Park

Location: Utah

Established: April 12, 1929

21. Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Location: New Mexico

Established: May 14, 1930

22. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Location: Tennessee/North Carolina

Established: June 15, 1934

23. Dry Tortugas National Park

Location: Florida

Established: January 4, 1935

24. Big Bend National Park

Location: Texas

Established: June 12, 1935

25. Shenandoah National Park

Location: Virginia

Established: December 26, 1935

26. Olympic National Park

Location: Washington

Established: June 29, 1938

27. Kings Canyon National Park

Location: California

Established: March 4, 1940

28. Isle Royale National Park

Location: Michigan

Established: April 3, 1940

29. Mammoth Cave National Park

Location: Kentucky

Established: July 1, 1941

30. Everglades National Park

Location: Florida

Established: December 6, 1947

31. Virgin Islands National Park

Location: U.S. Virgin Islands

Established: August 2, 1956

32. Haleakala National Park

Location: Hawai’i

Established: July 1, 1961

33. Petrified Forest National Park

Location: Arizona

Established: December 9, 1962

34. Canyonlands National Park

Location: Utah

Established: September 12, 1964

35. North Cascades National Park

Location: Washington

Established: October 2, 1968

36. Redwood National Park

Location: California

Established: October 2, 1968

37. Capitol Reef National Park

Location: Utah

Established: December 18, 1971

38. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Location: Texas

Established: December 30, 1972

39. Voyageurs National Park

Location: Minnesota

Established: April 8, 1975

40. Badlands National Park

Location: South Dakota

Established: November 10, 1978 (Originally established as a national monument on January 25, 1939).

41. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Location: North Dakota

Established: November 10, 1978

42. Biscayne National Park

Location: Florida

Established: June 28, 1980

43. Channel Islands National Park

Location: California

Established: March 5, 1980

44. Gates Of The Arctic National Park

Location: Alaska

Established: December 2, 1980

45. Glacier Bay National Park

Location: Alaska

Established: December 2, 1980

46. Kenai Fjords National Park

Location: Alaska

Established: December 2, 1980

47. Kobuk Valley National Park

Location: Alaska

Established: December 2, 1980

48. Lake Clark National Park

Location: Alaska

Established: December 2, 1980

49. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Location: Alaska

Established: December 2, 1980 (Originally established as a national monument on November 16, 1978).

50. Great Basin National Park

Location: Nevada

Established: October 27, 1986

51. American Samoa National Park

Location: Samoa

Established: October 31, 1988

52. Saguaro National Park

Location: Arizona

Established: October 14, 1994

53. Death Valley National Park

Location: California

Established: October 31, 1994

54. Joshua Tree National Park

Location: California

Established: October 31, 1994

55. Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park

Location: Colorado

Established: October 21, 1999

56. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Location: Ohio

Established: October 11, 2000

57. Congaree National Park

Location: South Carolina

Established: November 10, 2003

58. Great Sand Dunes National Park

Location: Colorado

Established: September 24, 2004 (Originally established as a national monument on March 17, 1932).

59. Pinnacles National Park

Location: California

Established: January 10, 2013

60. Gateway Arch National Park

Location: Missouri

Established: February 22, 2018

61. Indiana Dunes National Park

Location: Indiana

Established: February 15, 2019

62. White Sands National Park

Location: New Mexico

Established: December 20, 2019 (Originally established as a national monument on January 18, 1933).

63. New River Gorge National Park

Location: West Virginia

Established: December 27, 2020 (Originally established as a national river on November 10, 1978).

Some Fun Facts

  • President Ulysses S. Grant was the first to create a national park (Yellowstone), with the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act in 1872.
  • The National Parks Service was established in 1916, 45 years after Yellowstone, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the act to create it.
  • President Jimmy Carter established the most national parks while in office with 10. However, President Theodore Roosevelt is considered one of the biggest contributors to the current national parks system and overall conservation of the land.
  • There are currently 424 total national sites in the U.S. such as national monuments, national rivers, national recreation areas, etc. This list only includes the 63 designated as national parks.

Final Thoughts

Our national parks are an incredible way to experience the beauty of the United States. They’ve been around for a century and a half now and more continue to be added to the long list of national sites. We hope our list gives a clear picture of how long these amazing parks have been around, but even with 63 there are still many states that don’t have one. Check out the list of states that don’t have any national parks with suggestions about what to do instead!