It’s true: There’s are several U.S. National Park sites in each state! Here’s how to find the closest NPS location to you and start exploring.
When it comes to national parks, we tend to focus on our famous, expansive hallmarks. Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, etc. But there are hundreds more NPS sites to explore in every single state.
The simple explanation is: There are only 63 U.S. National Parks that hold that specific title. But there are 423 NPS sites nationwide that offer so much more.
In Tennessee alone (where Outsider is based), for example, there are 14 other National Park Service sites to explore outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some sites are National Historic Sites, some are National Monuments, and some are parkways, like the Natchez Trace outside Nashville.
So no matter what area, U.S. state or territory you live in, there’s a national park site to explore. Each site offers something precious; whether it’s the preservation of breathtaking nature and landmarks, or the designation of historically significant people, places, and times in American history, NPS provides, protects, and offers them all.
Ready to find the closest national park site to you? NPS makes the question of “how to find my national parks” as easy as clicking on your state:
Once you do, you’ll be taken to the National Park Service’s excellent Find Your Park tool. There, you can either search for a specific NPS site by activity or topic, or you can use the interactive map to search your state for parks.
Clicking on a state will show locations of NPS sites within. Then, the search engine offers a full list of every U.S. National Park site in the state. Tennessee, for example, has 15 NPS sites total – not just Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
At first, this can be a bit confusing. How are there over 400 national parks when they can be so hard to come across in most of the U.S.? Let’s take a look at how Tennessee’s NPS sites break down for a better understanding.
There are 15 NPS Sites in Tennessee:
- NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE: Andrew Johnson
- NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL: Appalachian
- NPS RIVER & RECREATION AREA: Big South Fork
- NATIONAL MILITARY PARK: Chickamauga & Chattanooga
- NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK: Cumberland Gap
- NPS BATTLEFIELD: Fort Donelson
- NATIONAL PARK: Great Smoky Mountains
- NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK: Manhattan Project
- NPS PARKWAY: Natchez Trace
- NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL: Natchez Trace
- WILD & SCENIC RIVER: Obed
- NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL: Overmountain Victory
- NATIONAL MILITARY PARK: Shiloh
- NPS BATTLEFIELD: Stones River
- NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL: Trail Of Tears
As you can see – and to reiterate – our U.S. NPS sites come in many different shapes, sizes, and more importantly: designations. There are only 63 U.S. National Parks that hold that specific title. But in total, there are 423 NPS sites nationwide.
Examples of NPS Sites That Aren’t Called ‘National Parks’
Across America, NPS sites encompass more than 84 million acres with multiple sites in every single state – extending into U.S. territories like Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands, as well. As seen in the images above and below, some sites are National Historic Sites, some are National Monuments, and some are parkways.
All NPS sites stand on equal ground of importance with the same mission in mind: preserve America’s natural beauty and history. And as die-hard national park lovers, Outsider is here to answer all things National Parks – including how to find them.