I found out over the weekend that there's a proposal for a new national park in Minnesota. Right now we only have one, Voyageurs National Park, but that could change! And this proposed national park would be in southeast Minnesota.

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What Makes a Park a 'National Park'?

Britannica defines a national park as "an area set aside by a national government for the preservation of the natural environment."

A national park may be set aside for public recreation and enjoyment or for its historical or scientific interest while keeping most landscapes and their accompanying plants and animals in their natural state.

How Many National Parks Are There?

There's a total of 63 national parks in the US and most of them are on the west coast. And there are just a few in the Midwest. We've got:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - North Dakota

Badlands National Park - South Dakota

Wind Cave National Park - South Dakota

Voyageurs National Park - Minnseota

Isle Royale National Park - Michigan

Gateway Arch National Park - Missouri

Indiana Dunes National Park - Indiana

Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Ohio

Here's a map of all of our national parks, thanks to EarthTrekkers.com, and you'll see just how skewed it is to the west.

(TAP TO ENLARGE) Credit: EarthTrekkers.com
(TAP TO ENLARGE) Credit: EarthTrekkers.com

Proposed National Park in Southeast Minnesota

If this proposed national park actually happens, that would actually cover a good chunk of the Midwest.

The proposed park would be called Driftless National Park and not only would it cover part of southeast Minnesota but also part of northeast Iowa, southwest Wisconsin, and northwest Illinois. It's a huge chunk!

(TAP TO ENLARGE) Credit: Driftless National Park and Preserve Initiative
(TAP TO ENLARGE) Credit: Driftless National Park and Preserve Initiative

I'll be nerdy for a second here, I think it's really interesting why it's called the driftless area. On the proposals website (where you can go to sign the petition if you'd like) it says that the Driftless Region "was not covered by ice during the last ice age, which resulted in the absence of the usual glacial deposits known as 'drift'."

The proposers want the area to be preserved for future generations to enjoy, to save threatened species that can only be found in this area, and it would also bring money to the southeast Minnesota area.

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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