States that are conserving the most land

Written by:
September 10, 2018
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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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{{{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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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: Pisgah State Park

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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