Unique Features on 20 Public Lands | NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY

Unique Features on 20 Public Lands


#10 inside Mammoth Cave, taken from the Mammoth Dome Tower. Photo: NPS

For this 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day, we wanted to highlight some of the lands that are home to some pretty unique features. With America’s public lands covering more than 600 million acres, we know there are lots of interesting sites to see and stories to tell. 

Here are a few we’ve discovered:



  1. Largest known living single stem tree in the U.S.: General Sherman at Sequoia National Park#1, General Sherman Tree at the north end of Giant Forest. Photo: NPS/Rick Cain (Calif.) – “The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the largest (by volume) tree in the world. Computing the volume of a standing tree is the practical equivalent of calculating the volume of an irregular cone. For purposes of volume comparison, only the trunk of a giant sequoia is measured, including the restored volume of basal fire scars. Using these accepted standards and actual field measurements taken in 1975, the volume of the Sherman Tree was calculated to be slightly over 52,500 cubic feet.” -National Park Service
  2. Tallest waterfall in North America: Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park (Calif.) – The 2,425 ft falls flow from approximately November through July, with peak flow in May.
  3. 300-million-year old stone arches at Arches National Park (Utah) – The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.
  4. Earliest sunrise in the U.S.: Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park (Maine) 
  5. Tallest mountain in North America: Denali/Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park (Alaska) – “Denali is six million acres of wild land, bisected by one ribbon of road. Travelers along it see the relatively low-elevation taiga forest give way to high alpine tundra and snowy mountains, culminating in North America's tallest peak, 20,320' Mount McKinley.” -National Park Service
  6. Breeding ground for nearly half the waterfowl in the U.S.: Audubon National Wildlife Refuge Complex (N.D.) – The Refuge encompasses 14,735 acres of native prairie, planted grasslands and wetlands.
  7. Largest reservoir in the U.S.: Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area (Ariz. And Nev.)
  8. Annual migration of more than 130,000 caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Alaska) – “The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is home to some of the most diverse and spectacular wildlife in the arctic. The Refuge's rich pageant of wildlife includes 42 fish species, 37 land mammals, eight marine mammals, and more than 200 migratory and resident bird species.” -U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
  9. Highest point east of the Mississippi: Mount Mitchell, elevation of 6,684 feet. It's located in Mount Mitchell State Park (N.C.). #3 Double Arch. Photo: NPS
  10. Most extensive underground cave system on Earth: Mammoth Caves at Mammoth Cave National Park (Ky.) 
  11. Two-mile long “sleeping giant” landscape at Sleeping Giant State Park (Conn.)
  12. Tallest lighthouse in the U.S.: Hatteras Lighthouse at Cape Hatteras National Seashore (N.C.)
  13. Haunted hike: Seven Bridges Trail in Milwaukee’s Grant Park (Wisc.)
  14. Largest collection of blossoming cherry trees in the world at Branch Brook Park (N.J.) – Branch Brook Park also has the distinction of being the first county park to be opened for public use in the United States.
  15. Highest point in Massachusetts at Mount Greylock State Reservation (Mass.)
  16. Easternmost point in the U.S. at Quoddy Point State Park (Maine) – The park offers some of Maine's best wildlife-watching all year long, including summer spottings of humpback, minke and finback whales offshore.
  17. Deepest lake in the U.S. at Crater Lake National Park (Ore.)
  18. Oldest public park in the U.S. is Boston Common (Mass.) – “The "Common" has been used for many different purposes throughout its long history. Until 1830, cattle grazed the Common, and until 1817, public hangings took place here. British troops camped on Boston Common prior to the Revolution and left from here to face colonial resistance at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775.” -City of Boston
  19. Oldest continually operated state park is Indian Springs State Park (Ga.) – “Visitors can still sample the spring water flowing inside the stone Spring House built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.” -Georgia State Parks
  20. Largest park in the U.S. is Adirondack Park (N.Y.) – “Today the Park is the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States, greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park combined. The boundary of the Park encompasses approximately 6 million acres, nearly half of which belongs to all the people of New York State and is constitutionally protected to remain “forever wild” forest preserve.” -Adirondack Park

 #11, Sleeping Giant State Park