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The Newest National Parks Around the World

Sure, we love Yellowstone and Yosemite. But from Finland to Chile, a fresh crop of national parks has us counting up our vacation days.

Around the world, including right here in the U.S., governments are designating a host of new national parks. (Courtesy Parque Patagonia/Linde Waidhofer)

Sure, we love Yellowstone and Yosemite. But from Finland to Chile, a fresh crop of national parks has us counting up our vacation days.

You can’t go wrong visiting any national park this summer, but what if you’ve already checked the big ones off your list and are looking for something new? Around the world, including right here in the United States, governments are designating a host of new national parks. Here are the ones we’re most excited about.

Hossa National Park, Finland

(Sini Salmirinne)

Designated Finland’s 40th national park last summer, Hossa is a 27,000-acre expanse near the Russian border filled with crystal-clear lakes, 55 miles of hiking and biking trails, and 4,000-year-old Stone Age rock art. You can rent canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes, and snowshoes at the visitor center, and an on-site café serves up smoked salmon and reindeer soup. The park’s Karhunkainalo campground features a lakeside sauna, or you can stay in a sleek private cottage at Hossan Lomakeskus, just outside the park boundary. Hossa Travel runs weeklong small group–focused guided tours throughout the park.

Giant Panda National Park, China

(Chester Ho/Unsplash)

China didn’t just designate a new national park in 2017—the country revamped its entire park system. The plan? Establish about ten new national parks by 2020 and restructure the whole management system. While tourism will certainly remain part of each park's mission, the main goal is now habitat and ecosystem conservation. The proposed Giant Panda National Park—nearly three times the size of Yellowstone, at 6.4 million acres—will unify dozens of protection zones for giant pandas in southwestern Sichuan province.

Pinnacles National Park, California

(Joe Parks/Creative Commons)

Central California’s Pinnacles National Park became our 59th national park in 2013, and it remains relatively under the radar. You’ll find a 30-mile-wide volcanic field with stunning rock spires and millions of years of geologic history. Climb through caves, hike 32 miles of trails, and watch rangers release California condors into the wild. Castle Rock Climbing School offers guided rock climbing on the multipitch routes within the park, and you can book a campsite at the park’s sole campground or rent a cottage at Paicines Ranch, a nearby working cattle farm.

Sierra del Divisor National Park, Peru

(Courtesy Rainforest Trust/Diego Perez)

The Peruvian government created the 3.3 million–acre Sierra del Divisor National Park in 2015 as a way to protect indigenous communities and endangered wildlife species. Situated deep in the Amazon rainforest, near the border of Brazil, the park is an important link in the Andes-Amazon Conservation Corridor, a 1,100-mile-long protected zone that’s been decades in the making by conservation groups like Rainforest Trust. Visitors to the park are rare—it can be reached only via a daylong boat ride from the riverside town of Pucallpa—but if you make it out there, you’ll be treated to dormant volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, and some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet.

Åsnen National Park, Sweden

(Courtesy Destination Smaland/Per Pixel Petersson)

When the 4,700-acre Åsnen officially opens this May, it will become Sweden’s 30th national park and its first new addition since 2009. Nearly 75 percent of the park is water—the rest is made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered across Lake Åsnen, old-growth deciduous forests, wetlands, and lowland plains across a stunning swath of southern Sweden. Rent kayaks and summer cottages at Getnö Gård, spot ospreys and sea eagles, or pedal 86 miles of waterfront along gravel roads and rail trails.

Patagonia National Park and Pumalín National Park, Chile

Around the world, including right here in the U.S., governments are designating a host of new national parks. (Courtesy Parque Patagonia/Linde Waidhofer)

In January 2018, the Chilean government announced the creation of two new national parks and the protection of more than 10 million acres of temperate rainforest and wild grassland. The feat was made possible in part by a donation of more than a million acres of restored ranchland by Tompkins Conservation, a philanthropic organization created by former Patagonia CEO Kristin Tompkins and her late husband, Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face. Both parks are now open to visitors. In Pumalín, you’ll sea kayak among dolphins through fjords, hike to the top of volcanic peaks, and sleep in rustic shelters at more than a dozen campgrounds. In Patagonia Park, pitch a tent at a designated campground or sleep in the upscale Lodge at Valle Chacabuco before hiking to six emerald alpine lakes along the Lagunas Altas Trail.

Filed To: National Parks / Conservation / Travel / Nature / Adventure
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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