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In 1872, Yellowstone became the first national park in the United States, and today, there are 63. Take a walk back in history to visit the 10 oldest national parks in the United States.
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Yellowstone National Park – 1872
On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant designated Yellowstone as the first national park in the United States and the world. Today, the park is home to the world’s largest collection of geysers, including the iconic Old Faithful.
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Sequoia National Park – 1890
Several years after the creation of Yellowstone, logging operations in the Giant Forest came to an abrupt halt when the area was designated as Sequoia National Park. Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, this Land of Giants is the place to go to see the world’s largest trees.
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Yosemite National Park – 1890
What is now Yosemite National Park was first placed under federal protection by the Yosemite Grant, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864, but it wouldn’t earn status as a national park until 1890. Nearly four million people visit the park each year, and most of them never leave the 7-square-mile Yosemite Valley.
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Mount Rainier National Park – 1899
Mount Rainier National Park, home to the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 states, was established in 1899 by President William McKinley. It remains one of the country’s most accessible parks, with two major cities – Seattle and Portland – both located within a 200-mile radius.
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Crater Lake National Park – 1902
Surprisingly – given the state’s natural beauty – Crater Lake is the only national park in Oregon, established in 1902. During the short summer season, the magnificent blue lake sparkles in the sunlight, making the park a favorite for picnickers.
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Wind Cave National Park – 1903
Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, Wind Cave National Park was the first cave in the world to earn national park designation. It’s the world’s sixth longest cave, with 150 miles of known passages. Above the surface, the park has one of the last intact prairies in the country.
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Mesa Verde National Park – 1906
The history of Mesa Verde goes back long before it was designated as a national park by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. As early as 600 AD, it was home to the cliff-dwelling Ancestral Puebloans. Mesa Verde National Park contains some 5,000 archeological sites – some of the best in the United States.
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Glacier National Park – 1910
Glacier National Park, a hiker’s paradise with more than 700 miles of trails, joined the national park system in 1910, thanks to President William Howard Taft. Around 3 million visitors pass through the park entrance each year to see for themselves some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.
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Rocky Mountain National Park – 1915
President Woodrow Wilson signed Rocky Mountain National Park into existence in 1915. Humans have been occupying the park for more than 10,000 years, and modern outdoors enthusiasts flock to the Rocky Mountains for some of the best back country campsites.
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Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park – 1916
When modern-day Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park was added to the national park system in 1916, it was first established as the larger Hawaii National Park. In 1961, the park was split into two and a large portion of the land became Haleakalā National Park. Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes: Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.