America’s national-park system got its start in 1872, when Congress created Yellowstone National Park, the first in the world. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson established the National Park Service to manage a system of what was then just 35 national parks and monuments.
Today, there are more than 400 national parks, monuments, historic trails and other preservation areas in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan and the Virgin Islands. All told, the park system covers a monumental 84 million acres, which means there are plenty of opportunities to run, hike, bike, swim, fish, camp and explore in a variety of landscapes and settings.
Looking for some inspiration for your next trip? These are the nation’s most popular National Parks, based on data collected by the National Park Service in 2018 — and three can’t-miss activities in each one.