The United States is lucky to have a National Parks Service (NPS) that lets us get up close and personal with some of North America’s most beautiful locations.
You might already have several official national parks on your list to visit, but consider adding these seven former national parks—they're worth a visit.
Formerly: General Grant National Park
Currently: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
The NPS oversees both of these parks because of their proximity. With the bounty of California parks, it made sense for the NPS to merge parks to make them easier to maintain and promote.
Before they became a mega-national park, the former General Grant National Park was established in 1890 and operated under that name until 1940. General Grant National Park was originally designed to protect the sequoias in the area from the abundance of logging around California. John Muir’s many visits to the area made the public aware of the beauty of these giant trees and the dangers logging presented to that beauty. Throughout the 1960s, the NPS and the public at large continued to fight to preserve Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Platt National Park (Sulphur, Oklahoma)
Formerly: Platt National Park
Currently: Sulphur Springs Reservation
Platt National Park was created in 1902 as a pact between the U.S. government and the Chickasaw Nation. Originally named the Sulphur Springs Reservation, the people living on the land were forced to move out of the boundaries of the national park. The park opened to the public in 1904 but was later absorbed into the Chickasaw National Recreation Area (CNRA) in 1976.
The CNRA is found in the Arbuckle Mountains in Murray County near the city of Sulphur. Pavilions, park buildings, and other enclosures are found throughout the land, along with an abundance of lakes, streams, and rivers for visitors to kayak. Boating, fishing, camping, and more await visitors who want to learn more about the Chickasaw Indian Nation. The CNRA is some of the most beautifully preserved land in North America, and travelers are in for a treat when visiting this reservation.
Formerly: Sullys Hill National Park
Currently: Sullys Hill National Game Reserve
Sullys Hill National Park is now known as the Sullys Hill National Game Reserve, a major demotion from this hunter’s paradise. It was established by President Roosevelt in 1904, but by 1931 the NPS no longer oversaw the protection and development of this former national park. Instead, Sullys Hill National Game Reserve is now managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service who oversees the hunting and fishing in the area.
Sullys Hill National Game Reserve features wooded hills and marshes. Chock full of American bison, elk, white-tailed deer, and prairie dogs, the land is littered with some of the biggest game in the United States. The entire reserve brings waves of bird watchers from across North America, too. The visitor center located in reserve educates travelers on the history of the land and the animals that graze through it. If you love hunting and fishing, travel to Sullys Hill and take part in some of the best of both you’ll find in the U.S.
Formerly: Hawaii National Park
Currently: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park & Haleakala National Park
Hawaii National Park was split into two National Parks in 1960: Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Haleakala National Park. The NPS found it easier to manage and oversee the park if it was split into two due to the amount of land each volcano encompasses and the nature of managing traffic to potentially active volcanoes.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is home to two active volcanoes: Kilauea, one of the earth’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa. When visiting, you not only can reach the summit of these volcanoes but also learn about the impact they have on Hawaii, the Pacific Ocean, and the world around them. If you visit Hawaii, stay on the big island, and visit its active volcanoes for a once in a lifetime experience.
Haleakala National Park is located on Maui and covers more than 33,000 acres of land situated on a populate wilderness area. The summit of Haleakala is not easy to climb, forcing visitors to take winding roads up to the top. The Haleakala Crater is one of the most iconic in the world, giving those who make the trek insight into the heart of this volcano.
Formerly: Mackinac National Park
Currently: Mackinac Island State Park
Mackinac National Park was established in 1895 and transferred to the state’s oversight 20 years later. The second national park created in the U.S. after Yellowstone, Mackinac Island State Park encompasses less than four square miles of land, with more than 70 percent of the total park being the surrounding water. The island bans cars, which means visitors are in for a treat on foot when visiting this state park.
Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes, along with other historical buildings on the island, give visitors an insight into the area’s history and inhabitants. Limestone caves and rock formations are unique to the area. In 2009, the island saw its 20 millionth visitor, celebrating over a century of popularity despite the downgrade from national park to state park.
Formerly: Fort McHenry National Park
Currently: Fort McHenry National Monument
Like many national treasures located in the U.S., Fort McHenry National Park was eventually changed to a national monument. Established in 1925, it went from park to monument 14 years later in 1939. In fact, it’s official name is now Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Why is this monument so crucial to American history? It inspired The Star-Spangled Banner!
Fort McHenry, located in the heart of Baltimore, Maryland, played a pivotal role during the War of 1812. Its soldiers defended Baltimore Harbor from the British Navy attacking from the Chesapeake Bay. During the war, the bastion fort’s storm flag flew overhead during bombardments from the British, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem that eventually became America’s National Anthem.
Formerly: Abraham Lincoln National Park
Currently: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park
President Abraham Lincoln was one of America’s most trailblazing politicians. His childhood home was made a national park in 1916, however, it was eventually disbanded by the NPS in 1939. Now known as the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, this historic park oversees two farm sites in LaRue County where Lincoln was born and grew up.
The park features a visitor’s center in Lincoln’s childhood home for travelers to learn more about the United States’ 16th President. The privately own Nancy Lincoln Inn is on sight, too, for road trippers to spend the night and learn more. A replica of the log cabin Lincoln was allegedly born in was reconstructed on site as the original was deconstructed before 1865. If you want to learn more about President Lincoln, his childhood home is the place to start.