National Park Service (NPS) was founded in 1916. A widely circulated myth is that it was started by America’s great outdoorsman president, Theodore Roosevelt. However, the reality is that it was started by the National Park Service Organic Act. The NPS is a part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. There are 63 national parks, and the service has just slightly more than 12,000 employees.
The entire NPS covers over 211,000 square miles. The most well-known national parks are by no means the largest. Death Valley National Park covers 6,700 square miles. Yellowstone National Park covers 3,400. Everglades National Park covers 2,300. Grand Canyon National Park covers cover 1,900.
The largest national park covers 23,000 square miles. That makes it larger than Vermont and Maryland combined. Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve contains parts of four mountain ranges and the 18,008-foot Mount Saint Elias, one of the tallest mountains in the United States. It has nine of the sixteen highest peaks in the country.
The park is east of Anchorage and west of the Yukon province of Canada. The park headquarters, Copper Center, has a population of slightly more than 200 people. The park also includes several glaciers. The Nabesna Glacier, at 53 miles long, is the longest valley glacier in North America.
Compared to most other national parks, the Wrangell-St. Elias gets very few visitors, at about 75,000 a year. That compares to almost 6 million to the Grand Canyon National Park.