Friday, June 2, 2023


RV through the parks that built America

As exploring becomes possible, point your RV’s GPS towards some of America’s lesser-known national parks, national monuments and other sites that tell a story of what it means to be “made in America.”

Each of the 417 parks and other sites administered by the National Park Service tells a story of America’s history, innovation, ingenuity, adventure, accomplishment, triumph or tragedy.

The national park idea is an American concept, born in the United States with the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. To preserve a place of great beauty and wonderment for all to enjoy, instead of a privileged few, was an example of democracy in action. Other parks soon followed and today the model has been adapted by virtually every country in the world, with many turning to the National Park Service for expertise in park operations and management.

Our national parks preserve sites with remarkable landscapes, unique geology, rugged wilderness, outstanding recreation, and meaningful history. Following are ten that are excellent examples of parks that help define the spirit of “made in America.” Click here to see a photograph of each park.

1. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
Successful defense of this fort during the War of 1812 inspired Francis Scott Key to write the iconic poem that became the lyrics to the National Anthem. Key penned the Star-Spangled Banner from a ship in Baltimore Harbor after he saw the garrison flag still flying high, signaling victory, in the dawn’s early light after a night of ferocious bombardment from the British Navy.

2. Golden Spike National Historic Site
East and west met here when the final spike in construction of the first transcontinental railroad was planted in 1869. The joining of 1,776 miles of Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad track provided a backbone to the country and spurred intense western expansion and economic growth.

3. Homestead National Monument of America
The Homestead Act of 1862 had an immediate and enduring effect upon America. The promise of free land propelled families, immigrants, women, and freed slaves west in pursuit of the American Dream. This time of westward expansion forever changed the American landscape and propelled industrial advancement, agricultural development, and diverse settlement.

4. Independence National Historical Park
Walk in the footsteps of the Founding Fathers and see the places where they debated, created, and masterfully articulated the ideals and principles that guide our nation. Visit Independence Hall where they signed the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Then tour Congress Hall where the ideals of the documents were put into practice, including the first peaceful transfer of power between presidents.

5. Lowell National Historical Park
This park recalls the history and legacy of America’s Industrial Revolution. Buildings, including a “mill girl” boarding house and the Boott Cotton Mills Museum with 88 operating looms, illustrate the nation’s transition from an agriculture to industry based economy and the societal changes that accompanied it.

6. Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
The Mississippi River was a lifeline for American settlers and it remains an integral part of our country’s identity. The Mighty Mississippi is a nationally significant resource for its natural, cultural, historic, scenic, recreational, economic, and scientific features.

7. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
The park preserves and perpetuates knowledge and understanding of jazz from its origins in New Orleans through its continued evolution. Jazz music was born in America, come hear a performance in the city where it all began.

 8. Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park
During a time of conflict and fear, the American people pulled together to support the troops fighting in World War II. This park commemorates the contributions and “We can do it” attitude of shipyard workers stateside, including women.

9. Wright Brothers National Memorial
America is the home of many inventors who have changed the world; notable among them are Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Wright Brothers transformed the history of aviation when they made the first sustained flight in a heavier-than-air machine here in 1903. With courage and perseverance, the self-taught engineers relied on teamwork and application of the scientific process to challenge the impossible.

10. Yellowstone National Park
This home to wondrous thermal features, landscapes, and wildlife was established as the world’s first National Park in 1872. When the U.S. Congress passed the legislation and President Ulysses S. Grant signed the legislation creating the park, they set a precedent that, as a society, we would preserve our most treasured places for all to enjoy. The idea of protected public lands has since been adopted around the globe

Start exploring today! Find the closest national park to you here.

##RVT803 ##RVDT1348

Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodbury is the editor here at She was lucky enough to grow up alongside two traveling parents, one domestically by RV (yep, Chuck Woodbury) and the other for international adventures, and has been lucky to see a great deal of our world (and counting!). She lives near Seattle with her dog and chickens. When she's not cranking out 365+ newsletters for she's hiking, cooking or, well, probably traveling.


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3 years ago

I believe Independence National Historical Park Is a National Park.

3 years ago

This make me very irritated. Even the National Park Service can’t get it right. They manage 417 sites. ONLY 59 are National Parks, (that may have increased in recent years to 61). We even had a Ranger teach children about this in North Cascade NP. We were impressed. Now I would be impressed if the NPS could get it right (if they put out the article). We see this Too often. We have visited 50 of the National PARKS, and uncountable number of National Battlefields, National Monuments, National Seashores, National Rivers, National Recreation areas, etc, etc. Please lets get this right.

3 years ago

Well, it’s true the NPS has 417 ‘units’, some are national monuments, historic sites, etc.

But, I was hoping for a list of under-visited units, it would help us avoid the crowds this summer. Yellowstone is on this list but is certainly not an under-visited or ‘lesser known’ unit. Very few of those are going to be ‘parks’, thanks to the throngs determined to visit each and every Park for their badge sash.

Perhaps someone has a link to a good list of under-visted units?

3 years ago

Agree agree with Gary. There are NOT 417 National Parks.
This is another article that is not accurate. Chuck – Please start checking articles for accuracy. Every article that is like this, it gets harder to believe the content of all of your articles. I love your site and hope this can get corrected.

Gary Gent
5 years ago

Correction to previous comment. Yellowstone IS a NP, but none of the others

Gary Geent
5 years ago

I am quite sure there are ONLY 59 “National Parks”, not 417. All of the locations mentioned in this article are certainly worth a visit BUT they are not National Parks.

RV Staff
5 years ago
Reply to  Gary Geent

Thanks for your comment, Gary. Here’s a direct quote from a recent National Park Service Press Release: “There is nothing more American made than our national parks,” said acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds. “Each of our country’s 417 national parks tells a chapter of the American story.” Looking further into it, the NPS says there are “417 national park sites in the United States.” “Within the system, there are 59 sites that include ‘National Park’ as part of their proper name.” Here’s a link to the National Park Foundation that explains it: Hope that helps clear this up. —Diane at

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