Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

States that are conserving the most land

  • MaxPixel
    1/ MaxPixel

    States that are conserving the most land

    Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls—every state in the nation boasts another natural marvel; land carefully protected from development to preserve its beauty and ecosystem. The United States boasts a whopping 59 national parks and 8,565 state parks, plus countless other national forests and protected areas. Thanks to the government’s dedication to preservation, Americans can still discover natural wonders from sea to shining sea.

    With that in mind, the amount of land preserved does vary widely from state to state. Using data from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Inventory of Protected Areas, Stacker ranked all 50 states—plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—by the percent of total protected state acres. The amount of each state’s land classified as protected with the designation GAP 1, GAP 2, or GAP 3 was calculated using digital mapping software.

    Read on to see where your home state falls on the list, and learn each state’s most notable large park. Environmentalists might even consider it a road trip bucket list.

    ALSO: States with the most farmland 

  • James Watkins // Flickr
    2/ James Watkins // Flickr

    #52. Kansas

    Percent of total state area protected: < 1% (498,206.1 out of 52.7 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Fall River State Park

  • eGuide Travel // Flickr
    3/ eGuide Travel // Flickr

    #51. District of Columbia

    Percent of total state area protected: < 1% (118.1 out of 43,734 acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Lincoln Park

  • Jim Bowen // Flickr
    4/ Jim Bowen // Flickr

    #50. Iowa

    Percent of total state area protected: 1.69% (607,083.6 out of 36 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Brushy Creek State Recreation Area

  • Peter Zillmann // Flickr
    5/ Peter Zillmann // Flickr

    #49. Nebraska

    Percent of total state area protected: 2.20% (1.1 million out of 49.5 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Fort Robinson State Park

  • Tom Shockey // Flickr
    6/ Tom Shockey // Flickr

    #48. Illinois

    Percent of total state area protected: 3.19% (1.2 million out of 37.1 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park

  • Stuart Seeger // Flickr
    7/ Stuart Seeger // Flickr

    #47. Texas

    Percent of total state area protected: 3.25% (5.6 million out of 171.9 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Big Bend National Park

  • Jasont82 // Wikimedia Commons
    8/ Jasont82 // Wikimedia Commons

    #46. Indiana

    Percent of total state area protected: 3.26% (759,520.2 out of 23.3 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Brown County State Park

  • National Park Service
    9/ National Park Service

    #45. Oklahoma

    Percent of total state area protected: 3.52% (1.6 million out of 44.7 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Lake Murray State Park

  • James St. John // Flickr
    10/ James St. John // Flickr

    #44. Ohio

    Percent of total state area protected: 3.70% (1.1 million out of 28.7 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  • Anivron // Wikimedia Commons
    11/ Anivron // Wikimedia Commons

    #43. Alabama

    Percent of total state area protected: 4.38% (1.5 million out of 33.5 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Oak Mountain State Park

  • Oquendo // Wikimedia Commons
    12/ Oquendo // Wikimedia Commons

    #42. Puerto Rico

    Percent of total state area protected: 4.73% (161,310.4 out of 3.4 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: El Yunque National Forest

  • PEO ACWA // Flickr
    13/ PEO ACWA // Flickr

    #41. Kentucky

    Percent of total state area protected: 5.16% (1.3 million out of 25.9 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Mammoth Cave National Park

  • Ken Lund // Flickr
    14/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #40. Georgia

    Percent of total state area protected: 6.39% (2.4 million out of 38 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: F. D. Roosevelt State Park

  • {{{1}}} // Wikimedia Commons
    15/ {{{1}}} // Wikimedia Commons

    #39. North Dakota

    Percent of total state area protected: 6.47% (2.9 million out of 45.2 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

  • ThinkHat // Wikimedia Commons
    16/ ThinkHat // Wikimedia Commons

    #38. Missouri

    Percent of total state area protected: 6.48% (2.9 million out of 44.6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Gateway Arch National Park

  • Phillip Stewart // Flickr
    17/ Phillip Stewart // Flickr

    #37. Mississippi

    Percent of total state area protected: 6.96% (2.2 million out of 31 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Clarkco State Park

  • Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons
    18/ Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

    #36. Tennessee

    Percent of total state area protected: 7.32% (2 million out of 27 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • Dfscgt21 // Wikimedia Commons
    19/ Dfscgt21 // Wikimedia Commons

    #35. South Carolina

    Percent of total state area protected: 7.66% (1.6 million out of 20.5 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Congaree National Park

  • JJBers // Flickr
    20/ JJBers // Flickr

    #34. Connecticut

    Percent of total state area protected: 7.68% (272,368.8 out of 3.5 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Mohawk Forest/Mohawk Mountain State Park

  • Samir Luther // Wikimedia Commons
    21/ Samir Luther // Wikimedia Commons

    #33. South Dakota

    Percent of total state area protected: 8.43% (4.2 million out of 49.4 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Badlands National Park

  • eutrophication&hypoxia // Flickr
    22/ eutrophication&hypoxia // Flickr

    #32. Maryland

    Percent of total state area protected: 8.73% (693,081.3 out of 7.9 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Gunpowder Falls State Park

  • Ken Lund // Flickr
    23/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #31. Louisiana

    Percent of total state area protected: 9.03% (3 million out of 33.5 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Chicot State Park

  • Martin de Lusenet // Flickr
    24/ Martin de Lusenet // Flickr

    #30. Rhode Island

    Percent of total state area protected: 9.22% (91,165.5 out of 988,728 acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Burlingame State Park

  • Andrew Michael Smith // Flickr
    25/ Andrew Michael Smith // Flickr

    #29. North Carolina

    Percent of total state area protected: 9.32% (3.2 million out of 34.4 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: South Mountains State Park

  • Famartin // Wikimedia Commons
    26/ Famartin // Wikimedia Commons

    #28. Virginia

    Percent of total state area protected: 10.08% (2.8 million out of 27.4 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Shenandoah National Park

  • Joshua Daniel Franklin // Wikimedia Commons
    27/ Joshua Daniel Franklin // Wikimedia Commons

    #27. Delaware

    Percent of total state area protected: 10.36% (165,045.1 out of 1.6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Cape Henlopen State Park

  • ForestWander // Wikimedia Commons
    28/ ForestWander // Wikimedia Commons

    #26. West Virginia

    Percent of total state area protected: 10.96% (1.7 million out of 15.5 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Watoga State Park

  • Josh and Melanie Rosenthal // Flickr
    29/ Josh and Melanie Rosenthal // Flickr

    #25. Maine

    Percent of total state area protected: 11.15% (2.5 million out of 22.6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Acadia National Park

  • Noel Pennington // Flickr
    30/ Noel Pennington // Flickr

    #24. Arkansas

    Percent of total state area protected: 11.49% (3.9 million out of 34 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Hot Springs

  • Daniel Case // Wikimedia Commons
    31/ Daniel Case // Wikimedia Commons

    #23. New York

    Percent of total state area protected: 13.37% (4.7 million out of 34.9 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Allegany State Park

  • Bureau of Land Management // Flickr
    32/ Bureau of Land Management // Flickr

    #22. Wisconsin

    Percent of total state area protected: 13.79% (5.8 million out of 41.9 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Devil's Lake State Park

  • Deb Nystrom // Flickr
    33/ Deb Nystrom // Flickr

    #21. Michigan

    Percent of total state area protected: 14.04% (8.7 million out of 61.9 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Isle Royale National Park

  • chensiyuan // Wikimedia Commons
    34/ chensiyuan // Wikimedia Commons

    #20. Vermont

    Percent of total state area protected: 14.64% (901,321.6 out of 6.2 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Camel's Hump State Park

  • Nwalsh // Wikimedia Commons
    35/ Nwalsh // Wikimedia Commons

    #19. Massachusetts

    Percent of total state area protected: 15.14% (1 million out of 6.8 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: October Mountain State Forest

  • Nicholas // Wikimedia Commons
    36/ Nicholas // Wikimedia Commons

    #18. Pennsylvania

    Percent of total state area protected: 15.68% (4.6 million out of 29.5 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Pymatuning State Park

  • SachinDaluja // Flickr
    37/ SachinDaluja // Flickr

    #17. New Jersey

    Percent of total state area protected: 21.62% (1.2 million out of 5.6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Elephant Butte Lake State Park

  • Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons
    38/ Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons

    #16. Minnesota

    Percent of total state area protected: 22.6% (12.6 million out of 55.6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Voyageurs National Park

  • Anthony Quintano // Flickr
    39/ Anthony Quintano // Flickr

    #15. New Hampshire

    Percent of total state area protected: 24.58% (1.5 million out of 6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Allamuchy Mountain State Park

  • Trish Hartmann // Flickr
    40/ Trish Hartmann // Flickr

    #14. Florida

    Percent of total state area protected: 25.11% (10.6 million out of 42.1 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Biscayne National Park

  • Anthony Quintano // Flickr
    41/ Anthony Quintano // Flickr

    #13. Hawaii

    Percent of total state area protected: 31.32% (2.2 million out of 7 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

  • Thomas Shahan // Wikimedia Commons
    42/ Thomas Shahan // Wikimedia Commons

    #12. New Mexico

    Percent of total state area protected: 31.56% (24.6 million out of 77.8 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

  • Bureau of Land Management // Flickr
    43/ Bureau of Land Management // Flickr

    #11. Montana

    Percent of total state area protected: 36.51% (34.4 million out of 94.1 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Glacier National Park

  • Patrick McNally // Flickr
    44/ Patrick McNally // Flickr

    #10. Washington

    Percent of total state area protected: 37.5% (17.1 million out of 45.6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Olympic National Park

  • Edwin van Buuringen // Flickr
    45/ Edwin van Buuringen // Flickr

    #9. Arizona

    Percent of total state area protected: 38.42% (28 million out of 73 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Grand Canyon

  • Larry Lamsa // Wikimedia Commons
    46/ Larry Lamsa // Wikimedia Commons

    #8. Colorado

    Percent of total state area protected: 41.42% (27.6 million out of 66.6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Mesa Verde National Park

  • Don Graham // Flickr
    47/ Don Graham // Flickr

    #7. California

    Percent of total state area protected: 50.74% (53.2 million out of 104.8 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Joshua Tree National Park

  • Rick Cummings // Wikimedia Commons
    48/ Rick Cummings // Wikimedia Commons

    #6. Wyoming

    Percent of total state area protected: 54.83% (34.3 million out of 62.6 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Grand Teton National Park

  • Paxson Woelber // Flickr
    49/ Paxson Woelber // Flickr

    #5. Alaska

    Percent of total state area protected: 55.4% (235.9 million out of 425.8 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Wrangell–St. Elias

  • Jsayre64 // Wikimedia Commons
    50/ Jsayre64 // Wikimedia Commons

    #4. Oregon

    Percent of total state area protected: 56.02% (35.3 million out of 63 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Crater Lake National Park

  • Idaho National Laboratory // Flickr
    51/ Idaho National Laboratory // Flickr

    #3. Idaho

    Percent of total state area protected: 67.34% (36 million out of 53.5 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: City of Rocks National Reserve

  • Wolfgang Staudt // Wikimedia Commons
    52/ Wolfgang Staudt // Wikimedia Commons

    #2. Utah

    Percent of total state area protected: 68.5% (37.2 million out of 54.3 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Canyonlands National Park

  • Ken Lund // Flickr
    53/ Ken Lund // Flickr

    #1. Nevada

    Percent of total state area protected: 80.44% (56.9 million out of 70.8 million acres)

    Notable large park in this state: Great Basin National Park

2018 All rights reserved.