Top 10 States for National Park Service Sites

When it comes to the distribution of the 423 units in the National Park Service (NPS) system, not all 50 states are represented equally.  For example, seven states (plus Washington, D.C.) contain 39% of NPS sites and our top-ranked state alone holds nine of the special places designated as one of the nation’s 63 National Parks.  On the other hand, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Delaware only have one NPS site apiece (as did Rhode Island until 2014 and Illinois until 2015).  To maximize your vacation time, head to one of these ten best states for NPS sites.  Click here to see all of our Top 10 Lists.

10. New Mexico (15 NPS units, 2 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Bandelier National Monument

Hidden Gems: Chaco Culture National Historical Park, White Sands National Park

The prettiest cave in the NPS system, impressive ruins, and so much more

9. Pennsylvania (17 NPS units, 0 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Independence National Historical Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park, Gettysburg National Military Park

Hidden Gems: Steamtown National Historic Site, Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Similar to New York (23 NPS units), Pennsylvania focuses on its history, especially in Philadelphia

8. South Dakota (6 NPS units, 2 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Badlands National Park

Hidden Gems: Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Head underground to fully enjoy the Black Hills, plus go wildlife watching on scenic drives

7. Colorado (13 NPS units, 4 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park

Hidden Gems: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Dinosaur National Monument

Incredible natural beauty awaits in this mountainous state

6. Florida (11 NPS units, 3 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Everglades National Park, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Hidden Gems: Dry Tortugas National Park, Gulf Islands National Seashore

Head for the coastline to enjoy this state’s beaches, wildlife, and historic forts

5. Arizona (22 NPS units, 3 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Grand Canyon National Park, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Saguaro National Park

Hidden Gems: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Chiricahua National Monument

Visiting one of the natural wonders of the world is just the tip of the iceberg in Arizona

4. Hawai‘i (8 NPS units, 2 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Haleakalā National Park, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

Hidden Gems: Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Pu‘uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

Majestic volcanic scenery and some fascinating cultural sites

3. Alaska (23 NPS units, 8 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Denali National Park and Preserve, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Hidden Gems: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Kenai Fjords National Park

Unparalleled natural beauty and some of the most remote places on the planet

2. Utah (13 NPS units, 5 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park

Hidden Gems: Capitol Reef National Park, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Golden Spike National Historical Park, Natural Bridges National Monument

Red rock spectacles are only one aspect of this diverse state of mountains and deserts

…and finally the #1 state for National Park Service sites:

1. California (27 NPS units, 9 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Yosemite National Park, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park

Hidden Gems: Death Valley National Park, Lava Beds National Monument, Devils Postpile National Monument, Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park

The most National Parks (9 of 63) of any state, plus many interesting historic sites

Honorable Mentions

District of Columbia (23 NPS units, 0 National Parks)

Spotlight Parks: Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, National Mall

Hidden Gems: Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial, Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument

Washington, D.C. has the greatest concentration of NPS sites anywhere in the country

U.S. Virgin Islands (5 NPS units, 1 National Park)

Spotlight Parks: Virgin Islands National Park, Buck Island Reef National Monument

Hidden Gems: Christiansted National Historic Site, Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

These three small tropical islands include one of the nation’s best National Parks

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