Unlike many western parks with their scenic mountains and canyons, Everglades National Park was set aside to preserve an ecosystem comprising a web of animals and plants found nowhere else. The largest wilderness in the eastern United States, Everglades shelters the endangered manatee, the Florida panther, the threatened crocodile, and others.
When Indiana dunes received designation in 2019 as the country’s 61st national park, it marked the culmination of more than a century of conservation efforts. Scientists recognized the outstanding biological diversity of the southern shore of Lake Michigan as early as the 19th century and calls for protection quickly gained momentum. For decades, park advocates battled industrial development and urban expansion to establish first a state park, then a national lakeshore, and finally a 15,000- acre national park encompassing beaches, towering sand dunes, wetlands, prairie, and woodland.
Like the statue of liberty, the Grand Canyon is an American icon. (It’s almost as if the majesty of the American West has been poured into a limestone riverbed.) Theodore Roosevelt considered it his civic duty to urge every American to see it. And around five million people come to Grand Canyon National Park every year, from all over the globe. Indeed, the canyon is considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
Hottest, driest, lowest, largest . . . Death Valley dazzles, even intimidates, with superlatives. The largest national park in the Lower 48 has indeed recorded the world’s highest temperature (134° F), nets less than two inches of rain a year, and contains the lowest spot in North America. But those extremes can add up to fascination. Death Valley National Park is nothing short of spellbinding. Death Valley is geology laid bare—a scarred, gashed, dissected place where striated canyons gouge forbidding mountains, and where a vast salt-pan floor shimmers under a fierce sun. Ferocity reigns here.