North America's National Parks and Preserves Map
This interactive map shows the United States Administrative Boundaries of National Park System. It also shows National Parks and National Park Reserves of Canada Legislative Boundaries. To finish off, this map includes Natural Protected Areas of Mexico. To find the names and information about the parks, hover over the map. To learn more, scroll down.
|National Battlefield||National Military||National Park||Biosphere Reserve|
|National Historic||National Lakeshore||Fauna and Flora Protected A.||Natural Monument|
|National Memorial||National Monument||Sanctuary||Forested Preserve|
|National Park||National Preserve||Protected Area||Fauna Refuge|
U.S. NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM MAP
This map has 426 boundaries of the US National Park System. This map includes name, state, type of national park, and Area in acres.
There are 13 National Parks that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. UNESCO Sites have spectacular landscapes, unique biodiversity, and cultural significance to make them part of their list.
There are 21 National Parks that are also UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. These Reserves find a way of improving the relationship between people and their local environment.
Finally, there are 27 National Parks that have a Dark Sky Designation. These are sites that ensure that the skies are dark enough for stargazing at night.
The agency in charge of National Parks is the Department of Interior. To become a national park; an area must possess a nationally significant, natural, recreational, or cultural resource.
National Park System Classification
The US National Park Service has at least 19 different designations, but they are commonly known as parks. For convenience, they have been grouped into 13 different classes. You can see them under USA, at the bottom of the map. Each National Park class has a different color. The exact designation is visible when you hover over each park.
National Parks encompass large areas and provide protection of its resources. A national monument protects a resource, but is usually smaller than a park, and has a historical or archaeological significance.
National Seashores and Lakeshores, provide protection to water areas and these areas provide different recreational activities.
National scenic trails are footpaths in areas of natural beauty. Historic trails recognize routes of historical significance. Source: NPS
Most Visited National Parks in the USA
There are many reasons why a park is frequently visited. Some parks benefit from their closeness to large populations. Others for ease of access. Because each park has its own attributes it is not fair to compare them just on visitor numbers.
Every park has its own attributes. This list is for you to start or to make sure you can avoid crowds next time you decide to go to a National Park.
The total number of visitors in 2019 was 327,516,619. The number of visitors ranked by park is from 2020, source: NPS.
|Park||State||Visitors in millions|
|Great Smoky Mountains||North Carolina||12.1|
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Below is a description of most parks mentioned on the list. Not all the parks are included, as some of them like Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree have been described in Deserts of the USA and others like Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, and Grand Teton are described in Northwestern Mountains of the US.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Located in the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains is well known for its animal and plant diversity, its spectacular mountain views, and the remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture.
The park has over 1,500 different kinds of flowering plants, more than any other park! The best part is that this variety results in different blooming times and a variety of flowers in different seasons. Also because of different terrain elevation, plants will bloom at different times in different locations.
The park offers a Spring Flower Pilgrimage to see and learn about the different flowers!
Cades Coves is one of the most popular areas. This is a valley with all sorts of wildlife like black bears, groundhogs, turkey, deer, racoons and skunks.
Hiking trails depend on what you want to see and do. There are some for kids, others for waterfalls, others to see old forests, others for the views, etc. Great Smoky Mountains.
Because many paths will have uneven terrain, I suggest you use these boots found on Amazon. They will provide comfort, while you reach your destination. Merrell Women's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot.
Zion National Park
Located at the south of Utah, this park gets quite busy between March and November. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind you might have to deal with crowds while at Zion. The park's main attractions are found along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. From the road you can see Angels Landing and the Narrows. From Mount Carmel Highway you can also see dramatic views from above.
Angels Landing is a strenuous walk, and not for those afraid of heights. The Narrows is by the river. Weeping Rock trail, Riverside Walk, and Lower Emerald Pools trail are easy walks with beautiful views.
You must not miss Weeping Rock, and Lower Emerald Pools. They are best described as seasonal waterfalls. Riverside walk, and Checkerboad Mesa have beautiful views. Checkerboard is a white mesa, with a checkerboard pattern.
Inside the park it is possible to do horseback riding, go on river trips, go bike riding, go climbing, go backpacking, and go canyoneering. Source: Zion.
In case you are planning to camp at the park keep in mind the temperatures drop drastically at night. I suggest you take this sleeping bag found on Amazon: Mountaintop Ultralight Mummy Sleeping Bags 650 Fill Power Duck Down Suits for 32 Degree F for Camping Hiking Backpacking.
Located near Cleveland and Akron Ohio, this valley is a refuge for plants and wildlife. The valley is by the Cuyahoga River which provides an incredible site for forests, farmlands, and hills.
Beaver Marsh is a popular destination in the park. It is a magnet for visitors, not just for its scenery but because of wildlife. An ideal spot for birdwatching and photography.
Another popular destination is Brandywine Falls. This is a 60 foot waterfall with a boardwalk. The fall also has an arduous trail, for those that like challenging excursions. Cuyahoga Valley
If you are planning to visit, I would suggest you take this binoculars found on Amazon: Gosky 10x42 Roof Prism Binoculars for Adults, HD Professional Binoculars for Bird Watching Travel.
Largest National Parks in the USA
The size of a National Park might not sound important, once you are talking about millions of acres. Nevertheless, in ecological terms, it is important for these habitats, to sustain wildlife. Many times this is achieved through large continuous, uninterrupted masses of land.
Large sizes ensure that herbivores find enough plants to graze on and carnivores have a large area to hunt, and feed themselves.
From an ecological point of view, the size of a park becomes quite important. As for tourism, the previous examples show us which parks are going to have more sites to impress us. But, they also show us which might be saturated with visitors in peak tourist season. Meanwhile large parks might give us the distance and space from others that are not provided in popular parks.
The National Park system has more than 85 million acres. Below is the list with the largest parks. This values include National Parks and Preserves.
|Park||State||Acres in millions|
|Gates of the Arctic||Alaska||7.5|
|Yellowstone||Wyoming, Montana, Idaho||2.2|
|Grand Canyon National Park||Arizona||1.2|
Most Visited National Parks in Canada
A map with just US parks, seemed incomplete. Here are the most visited parks in Canada. This visitor data is for 2018 - 2019. Source: World Atlas
|Park||Province/Territory||Visitors in millions|
|Pacific Rim||British Columbia||1.1|
|Mount Revelstoke & Glacier||British Columbia||0.77|
|Prince Edward Island||Prince Edward Island||0.74|
Banff National Park
This is Canada's most popular park with 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of maintained trails. This park has breathtaking views of turquoise glacial lakes, mountain peaks, spectacular rugged mountains, broad valleys, glaciers, alpine meadows, and wildlife species. Furthermore, some of its trails are accessible from the Town of Banff.
Hiking season goes from July to September, since many passes are still snow bound and subject to avalanches in June!
The park also offers opportunities for biking, with 223 miles (360 km) of bike trails.
One of the most popular reasons to visit Banff is its three ski areas. These are Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise Ski Area and Sunshine Village. Ski season starts in November and closes in May.
This beautiful natural setting also has incredible opportunities to observe wildlife like: elk, cougars, grizzly bears, wolves, and black bears. Banff.
For a winter wonderland like Banff, you better be prepared and take the right items. I suggest this winter jacket found on Amazon Burton Womens Gore-Tex Kaylo Jacket. It is comfortable and warm.
Jasper National Park
This is Canada's largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Jasper is the perfect place for snowshoeing with over 2.7 million acres (11,000 sq km) of protected land.
Maligne Valley inside the park, is an ideal location for skiing, snowshoeing or biking with fat bikes. Maligne Canyon has frozen waterfalls and incredible ice formations.
Lastly the park boasts the Icefields parkway. This is a scenic drive, with views of snow peaked mountains, ancient glaciers, ice covered lakes, and winter wildlife. Some of the wildlife include bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, and coyotes. Jasper
If you plan on going snowshoeing, I suggest you take a look at these snowshoes found on Amazon FLASHTEK 21/25/30 Inches Snowshoes for Men and Women, Light Weight Aluminum Terrain Snow Shoes.
Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park
Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park has incredible biodiversity and is home to all sorts of marine life. It is one of the best places in the world to observe whales!
The best times to visit are between May and October.
From the hiking trails it is possible to see birds, whales, and seals. But if visitors prefer they can take a boat or a kayak to see the belugas and blue whales. All while maintaining at least 660 feet from them. Saguenay Marine Park
For this park I would suggest this snow boots found on Amazon Sorel Women's Caribou NL1005 Boot. They will keep your feet warm.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
This is also a park by the seashore but located in the Pacific Coast. Part of its beauty lies in the coastline views, the beaches, and rocky shorelines.
The park offers challenging hikes thanks to the uneven and rugged terrain. It also offers opportunities for wildlife encounters, and experience its history.
Pacific Rim is a magnet for surfers no matter the season. But winter conditions are for experienced surfers as the waves and rip currents are stronger due to the cold weather. Pacific Rim
Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Park
These are two parks, 10 miles (16km) apart. Mount Revelstoke is a park of contrasts where visitors can find a rain forest in the summer and a ski jump in winter time.
Glacier National Park has activities year round. It boasts ancient forests, deep valleys and alpine scenery. Hikes are full of views of old-growth cedars, alpine meadows, and lichen-covered boulders.
You can experience the transition from cedar-hemlock rainforest to subalpine spruce and fir, all within Glacier Park.
Skiers and snowboarders come from around the world to enjoy a display of glades, alpine bowls, and icefields. These have descents of more than 4,921 feet (1,500 meters). Revelstoke and Glacier
Largest National Parks in Canada
This visitor data is for 2018 - 2019. Source: World Atlas
|Park||Province/Territory||Acres in millions|
|Wood Buffalo||Alberta Northwest Territories||11.0|
|Nahanni (Reserve)||Northwest Territories||7.4|
|Kluane Park and Reserve||Yukon||5.43|
|Tuktut Nogait||Northwest Territories||4.0|
|Torngat Mountains||Newfoundland and Labrador||2.3|
Largest National Parks in Mexico
Finding the map data for Mexico's parks was quite easy and accessible. Nevertheless it was not easy to find data on the number of visitors. If you have reliable sources please let me know and contact me here: Databayou on Facebook.
Fortunately Parques Nacionales de Mexico did have information on the sizes of the parks. This map includes Mexican National Parks, Mexican Biosphere Reserves, Mexican National Monuments, and Protected Areas.
The data of the largest park, is summarized below, and it only includes National Parks. Reserves and Protected areas are not included in the table but are visible in the map.
|Park||State||Acres in millions|
|Bahia de Loreto||Baja Calirfornia Sur||0.51|
|Cumbres de Monterrey||Nuevo Leon||0.43|
|Sierra de San Pedro Martir||Baja California||0.17|
|San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago||Baja California||0.14|
|Cañon del Rio Blanco||Veracruz||0.13|
|Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano||Veracruz||0.12|
|Nevado de Toluca||Estado de Mexico||0.11|
Inspiration for North America's National Park's Map
This map was created to show where the National Parks of the United States are located. While writing about the Northwestern Mountains Region of the US I found out about how two sister contiguous parks, Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park located in Alberta, Canada had an International Dark Sky Association (IDA). This designation was shared across an international boundary! This cross boundary designation made a lot of sense, and I wanted to see if this was a common characteristics among North America's parks.
Regardless of cultural and national boundaries, many natural and geologic features are shared among countries. To keep a complex network or interconnected system of habitats pristine, and unfragmented; neighboring parks make a lot of sense. Therefore, I decided to find and display all the areas where this happened.
Resources for North America's Natural Parks Map
The shapefiles with data for the United States National Parks was obtained from NPS.
The shapefiles with data for Canada's National Parks was obtained from Open Canada.
The shapefiles with data for Mexico's National Parks was obtained from the Mexican Government http://sig.conanp.gob.mx/website/pagsig/info_shape.htm
The shapefiles with contry polygons was downloaded from Naturalearth.
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Made by Luz K. Molina with D3.js.