Today the United States has some 63 national parks (plus national preserves, national monuments, national historic sites, etc.). These are designated for their natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, or other reasons and are generally managed by the National Park Service. They preserve much of the most stunning landscapes of the United States for future generations.

The first national park in the United States was Yellowstone which was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. Since then many national parks have been added with the lasted national park added being New River Gorge in West Virginia. So the question is, what will be the 64th national park of the United States?

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What To Know About National Parks In The United States

Today 14 national parks are designated World Heritage Sites while 21 are named UNESCO Biosphere Reserved (8 national parks are both World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves).

The popularity of the national parks varies massively ranging from 14 million visitors for Smokey Mountains National Park to only 7,000 for the hard-to-reach Gates of the Arctic National Park remote in Alaska.

  • Most Popular: Smokey Mountains With 14 Million Visitors
  • Least Popular: Gates of the Arctic With 7,000 Visitors
  • Most National Parks: California and Alaska Have The Most National Parks In The States

There are plenty of contenders for being the next national park and there are plenty of optional scenic national forests, ancient cultural sites, lazy rivers, and moon-like volcanic landscapes that should be elevated to America's top protection.

To be added to America's list of national parks, the area must fulfill some basic criteria. It must be of scenic or historic significance. Then the preservation of the land must protect the environment or culture of an area and lastly the site must be open to the public to enjoy.

Top Contenders For The Next National Park

According to Seeker, some of the top contenders to become the 64th national park are:

  • Georgia: Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park
  • Delaware: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
  • Idaho: Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
  • Oregon: Mount Hood National Forest
  • Minnesota: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
  • Maine: Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
  • Nevada: Avi Kwa Ame National Monument
  • Pennsylvania: Allegheny National Forest
  • Louisiana: Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
  • Alaska: Tongass National Forest
  • Borders of Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa: Driftless Rivers

If Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area was to become the next national park, it would be significant as Delaware is the only state without a national park of any kind. Around 20 states don't have national parks, but Delaware doesn't have national preserves or national monuments.

It is impossible to go through all the top contenders on the list here. But we will discuss a couple of our favorite picks.

Related: You Won't Need A Spaceship To Visit Craters Of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

One of the most unearthly places in the United States is Craters of the Moon National Preserve in Idaho (Idaho is an underrated state with much more to offer than potatoes). Being a national monument and preserve places it only one step below that of a national park already.

  • Date: The Monument Was Established In 1924
  • Managed: By Both The National Park Service and The Bureau of Land Management
  • Size: 1,117 Sq Miles or 2,893 Sq Km
  • Lava Flows: 60 Distinct Solidified Lava Flows
  • Age: 15,000 Years To 2,000 Years Ago

The site encompasses three major lava fields - and around 400 square miles of sagebrush steppe grasslands surrounding those lava fields. The lava has poured through open rifts in the earth's crust and has created a unique and out-of-this-world environment.

Avi Kwa Ame National Monument

There is an active campaign to make to create the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. The proposal is supported by the local Native American people and is an attempt to preserve the biodiversity of the area from development. It is also considered sacred by ten Yuman-speaking tribes as well as the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute peoples.

The proposed national monument contains some of the most visually stunning and biologically diverse lands anywhere in the Mojave Desert. The area would also join Bears Ears and Gold Butte national monuments.

  • Size: The Proposed Site Spans More Than 380,000 Acres of Public Land In Southern Nevada
  • Pronunciation: Avi Kwa Ame (Ah-VEE kwa-meh)