Explore the Newest National Parks - all 11 of them!

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Eleven new National Parks were instated in the United States in the past years, however, due to the Covid19 Pandemic, many of these had to shut down or delay their openings.

These extraordinary places are now federally protected and available to explore. If you enjoy the outdoors, live for adventure or just want to see the majesty of the United States, check out the newest National Parks:

Pinnacles National Park, California

Pinnacles National Park is a protected mountainous area located east of the Salinas Valley in Central California, about five miles east of Soledad and 80 miles southeast of San Jose. The park's namesakes are from the eroded leftovers of the western half of an extinct volcano that moved 200 miles from its original location on the San Andreas Fault, which embedded itself in a portion of the California Pacific Coast Range. The national park is divided by the rock formations into East and West Divisions, connected only by hiking trails. The east side has shade and water, and the west has high walls of rock. The rock formations provide for spectacular pinnacles that attract rock climbers from all over the world. The park also features unusual talus caves that house at least thirteen species of bats. The park is also home to prairie falcons, and are a release site for California condors that have been hatched in captivity. One of the best hiking and viewing trails is Condor Gulch Trail, which is just shy of two miles to an overlook. Along the way, you might see some of the 200 hundred different bird species that call this region home.

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Astonishing biodiversity exists in Congaree National Park, the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers sweep through the floodplain, carrying nutrients and sediments that nourish and rejuvenate this ecosystem and support the growth of national and state champion trees. See a glimpse of what Congaree National Park has to offer, including champion trees, kayaking and canoeing opportunities, and wilderness for exploration and rejuvenation.

The Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Against the backdrop of rugged 14,000' peaks in the Sangre de Cristo mountains—the 30 square mile sand dune field, with no designated trails—invites you on an adventure. The natural and diverse system of the park ranges from great sand dunes to forests, from cottonwood groves to majestic mountain peaks and tundra. The highest elevation in the park is 13,604' above sea level. Here is an Great Sand Dunes National Park Visitor's Guide with our own experiences and advice.

The Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri

Commonly called the St. Louis Arch for being right inside the middle of the city, this urban National Park is very impressive. From the towering arch and tram ride to the top to the newly constructed underground museum that honors the country’s complicated history of westward migration, there's a lot more to see and do than simple architecture.

Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

Indiana Dunes National Park hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and has much to offer. Whether you enjoy scouting for rare species of birds or flying kites on the sandy beach, the national park's 15,000 acres will continually enchant you.  Hikers will enjoy 50 miles of trails over rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers and peaceful forests.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Just a short distance from urban Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife, and provides routes of discovery for visitors. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Black Canyon National Park, Colorado

Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon National Park exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky. The drop from the top is absolutely breathtaking. Consider this: you would need to stack the Empire State Building and Chicago's Willis Tower on top of each other and then maybe add a small office building or two - just to make it the same level as the deep gorge!

White Sands National Park, New Mexico

It is like no place on earth. Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live in this harsh environment.

Death Valley National Park, California

Not only one of the newest, it is also the hottest, driest, and lowest National Parks. In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley. It is truly an amazing National Park with enough diversity to explore on several visits.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona is home to the nation's largest cacti. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. For more information on Joshua Tree National Park - check out our visitor's guide


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