How Will the Next National Park Be Chosen?

With 63 National Parks dotting the US landscape, each offering a unique glimpse into the country’s vast natural beauty and historical significance, it’s no wonder the anticipation for the 64th is mounting. From the ancient grandeur of Yosemite, established in 1872, to the rugged charm of New River Gorge, welcomed in 2020, these parks capture the essence of America’s diverse terrain.

The search for the next National Park is a journey through scenic forests, cultural heritage sites, and otherworldly landscapes. As the National Park Service evaluates a new batch of candidates, you’re likely curious about the next stunning location. Will it be the historically rich Ocmulgee Mounds in Georgia or perhaps the striking Avi Kwa Ame in Nevada? The possibilities are as exciting as they are varied.

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The Next National Park is going to be...?

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Most likely to become the next National Park

As you explore the potential contenders for the title of America’s 64th National Park, you’ll find a collection of unique sites, each with distinct characteristics that make them stand out. These natural havens offer breathtaking scenery and embody the rich tapestry of the country’s geologic history and cultural heritage. Whether you’re an avid camper, hiker, or a nature enthusiast looking for your next adventure, these locations are must-visits as they inch closer to National Park status.

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

In the heart of Georgia lies ​the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park, which exudes historical significance. ​Spanning Over 10,000 years, this land has been cherished by the Native Americans of the Southeastern Woodlands. As a contender for National Park status, the Ocmulgee Mounds offer an immersive experience of ancient America. Hiking trails weave through the site, leading to ancient earthworks and ceremonial mounds, renewing the connection to the past. It’s easy to imagine couples camping under the stars, absorbed in the echoes of millennia-old stories and traditions.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve invites you on a journey through a terrain that resembles an alien landscape. This otherworldly preserve showcases the remarkable forces of Earth’s geologic history with its sprawling lava fields and rugged wilderness. Established in 1924 and managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management, the area beckons to those seeking thrills in its 1117 square miles. It’s the ideal backdrop for romantic hikes or camping trips, where you can marvel at the 60 distinct lava flows ranging from 15,000 to 2,000 years old.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

Maine’s gift to outdoor lovers, the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, offers a serene escape for those looking to connect with nature. With the National Park Service at its helm, this monument allows you to bask in the beauty of sparkling rivers, dense forests, and the arresting sight of Mount Katahdin. Favored activities include hiking trails that reward you with stunning vistas, perfect for those memorable romantic hikes or serene solitary treks.

Chiricahua National Monument

Arizona’s Chiricahua National Monument is a marvel of geologic history, featuring a vast landscape of rock spires formed by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. The area is managed by the National Park Service and offers a range of activities like camping and hiking. Its unique rock formations make it a popular destination for nature photographers and couples camping and seeking that special blend of adventure and romance.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Nestled between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a gem waiting for its coronation as a National Park. This dual-state haven provides a vast array of activities, including romantic hikes along the river and opportunities for camping under the stars. The Area’s lush landscapes, encompassing mountains, valleys, and the river itself, make it an irresistible prospect for nature lovers.

Avi Kwa Ame National Monument

Nevada’s Avi Kwa Ame National Monument is rich with cultural history and natural beauty. This sacred site offers stunning vistas of the desert landscape and serves as a crucial habitat for diverse wildlife. With its proximity to the bustling city of Las Vegas, the monument offers an escape to tranquility, where couples can indulge in romantic camping or hiking experiences amidst the serene desert expanse.

Tongass National Forest

Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, a vast and pristine wilderness, epitomizes unspoiled nature. Home to some of the lushest old-growth forests, towering mountains, and abundant wildlife, the Tongass offers activities like hiking through the silent woods or camping in secluded spots. It’s a place where you can genuinely connect with the great outdoors. It is a top contender for US National Parks status, promising protection for its unparalleled natural gifts.

Does the USA need another National Park?

Absolutely! National Parks preserve our natural heritage and boost local economies through tourism. Creating new parks could help balance development with conservation as our population grows.

Population Growth and Trends in the United States

With the growing population in the United States, it’s no surprise that demands on recreational spaces, including National Parks, are intensifying. You’re seeing more families, adventure seekers, and even couples wanting to explore the great outdoors. These spaces provide room to hike, camp, and engage in romantic hikes and serve as vital areas for conservation and environmental preservation. The increase in the US population, which includes diverse groups seeking different experiences from National Parks, underscores the need to expand these areas. More parks mean better management of visitor numbers, preserving these landscapes’ natural and geologic history.

The Growth in National Park Visitors

In recent years, National Parks have seen a significant uptick in visitation. The National Park Service has reported that certain parks have experienced record-breaking attendance. Places like Acadia National Park and other locations iconic for hiking and camping have been inundated with visitors ranging from solo trekkers to couples camping. The surge isn’t only about seeking adventure; it’s about connecting with nature, often in a romantic setting. This overwhelming trend has clearly put a strain on existing amenities and infrastructure. Expanding the number of US National Parks could alleviate the pressure on the current ones by spreading visitors across a broader network. Not only would this assist in managing crowds more effectively, but it would also preserve the quality of the romantic camping and romantic hikes these parks are renowned for.

Creating new National Parks will not just accommodate the growing demand. Still, it will safeguard the nation’s precious natural heritage for future generations. As outdoor recreational activities increase in popularity, the question isn’t whether America needs another National Park but when and where it will establish the next one.

Which region of the USA has the least access to National Parks

The Southeastern US, densely populated with fewer federal lands, is relatively underserved by National Parks compared to the West.

How Many National Parks Are There Now and in Which States?

You might be surprised to learn that despite an extensive network, the distribution of US National Parks is unique across the country. There are 63 official National Parks managed by the National Park Service, spanning from sea to shining sea. These parks celebrate America’s diverse geologic history and offer ample hiking, camping, and other outdoor recreation opportunities. While states like California and Alaska are rich in National Parks, others have fewer or none within their borders, which may affect your camping and hiking plans.

States with the Least Access to National Parks

When considering your options for a romantic camping trip or a quiet hike, you should know that some states need more National Park access. Notably, regions in the Northeastern United States, including highly populous states such as New JerseyPennsylvania, and New York, have the least access to National Parks. The push for establishing new parks, like the proposed Delaware Water Gap National Park, seeks to address this disparity and provide residents with closer connections to these treasured natural spaces.

States with the Most Access to National Parks

On the other end of the spectrum, some states boast the most access to National Parks – perfect for couples camping or anyone seeking romantic hikes surrounded by nature’s splendor. California leads with nine National Parks featuring landscapes from the towering redwoods to the serene deserts. Alaska follows closely, immersing you in some of the US National Parks system’s most remote and breathtaking wilderness areas. This wealth of access caters to lovers of outdoor adventures. It is crucial in preserving the natural beauty and biodiversity these parks were designed to protect.

Requirements to become the Next National Park

The United States’ landscapes are studded with protected areas of majestic beauty and historic significance. Still, creating a National Park is more intricate than you might expect. To guide this process, the National Park Service (NPS) has developed specific criteria that ensure only the most exemplary sites join the ranks of US National Parks.

Criteria that NPS Considers for a New National Park

The National Park Service holds potential sites to high standards. Historic or scenic significance is at the forefront of these requirements. The lands must tell a unique story of the nation’s geologic history or capture the natural splendor that sets them apart from other spaces. Additionally, environmental and cultural preservation is vital. Prospective National Parks must promise to safeguard biodiversity and cultural treasures for generations.

In terms of recreation, these areas need to support activities such as campinghiking, and various other pursuits that connect visitors with nature. For romantic escapades, locations ideal for couples camping or romantic hikes enhance the appeal, attracting an audience that cherishes shared experiences in nature’s embrace.

Requirements from Congress to Create Another National Park

Congress has the ultimate authority in designating National Parks, but they require more than just natural beauty or cultural relevance. Infrastructure such as roads for accessibility and restrooms for basic amenities are critical components. These essentials ensure that once a place is deemed a National Park, it can accommodate the influx of visitors eager to explore its wonders.

Moreover, a clear and demonstrable land management and conservation plan is necessary. This plan needs to detail how the park will handle increased visitation and maintain the integrity of the natural environment. It’s a balancing act between allowing public enjoyment and preserving the park for future admirers.

Popular Public Support for Another National Park

Public solid backing is indispensable for a location to transition from a beloved open space to a National Park. Grassroots movements and community advocacy play a significant role, highlighting the public’s desire and support for preservation.

When assessing new National Parks, the National Park Service considers the public’s passion for outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. Whether it’s a family outing, a solo adventure, or a romantic camping trip, public enthusiasm for these experiences at a proposed site can significantly impact the decision-making process.

As you explore the prospects of new additions to America’s catalog of National Parks, consider the importance of meeting these stringent criteria. The chosen sites will ultimately hold the honor of representing the best the US has to offer in natural splendor, recreational opportunities, and cultural or historic wealth.

Final Thoughts on Establishing the Next National Park

You’ve learned the essential criteria for establishing the next National Park and public support’s pivotal role in the process. The journey to recognizing a site’s unique contributions to America’s natural and cultural tapestry is meticulous and deliberate. As you advocate for potential sites, remember your voice’s impact in shaping the legacy of the nation’s protected lands. The next National Park will preserve critical pieces of the country’s heritage and provide a sanctuary for future generations to enjoy and learn from. Your engagement and enthusiasm are vital to bringing the next awe-inspiring landscape into America’s most treasured natural spaces.

My name is Rich, and I love to hike!

I grew up in Idaho, with plenty of hiking and camping just minutes away from our home. Growing up, we spent summers at the lake and falls in the mountains. Camping and hiking with friends was such a special way to spend time together. I’ve spent a lifetime outdoors, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting.

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