New National Parks and Important Updates for 2022

New National Parks and Important Updates for 2022

Our team of artists and illustrators had a blast creating dozens of original poster designs and works of art in 2021. Needless to say, we're already hard at work on our designs for 2022!

And since so much of our art is inspired by and based on the natural wonders of America and iconic travel destinations across the country, we thought we'd start the New Year off with some important updates on National Park developments for 2022. 

Could 2022 Bring a 64th National Park?

The designation of new National Parks has been an important American tradition since the first National Park earned its title in 1872; Yellowstone National Park. Since then, 62 National Parks have been added to the roster alongside Yellowstone, as well as hundreds of National Memorials, Monuments, National Forests, Historic Sites, and other important lands. At the time of this writing, there are 423 parks managed by the National Park Service, 63 of which have earned the coveted National Park title.

We don't know for certain yet, but 2022 may bump that number up to 64.

Ocmulgee Mounds in Georgia is a sprinkling of ancient earthen mounds dotted throughout the rolling hillsides of central Georgia, near the city of Macon. Currently, the mounds are protected under a National Historical Park designation, as the mounds preserve over 17,000 years of human history. Described by some as a 2,000-acre time capsule, this park is home to the National Park Service's largest archaeological collection, with thousands of ancient finds dating back to the earliest known inhabitants of the North American continent.

Beyond the mounds and the rich historical record on full display within them, the park conserves and protects rich southeastern ecosystems, including old-growth forests, swamps, and a rich diversity of flora and fauna.

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park is still under examination and consideration for potential National Park status. But this one-of-a-kind display of human history could become a National Park, something that could occur as early as July of 2022.

The Newest Addition to the Park Roster

The most recent National Park to be added to the roster is quite recent indeed! New River Gorge National Park was first preserved as a National River in 1978. But Congress officially changed the park's designation to a National Park on December 27th, 2020.

Despite the name 'New River,' this park preserves one of the oldest rivers in North America (and the iconic New River Gorge Bridge, built in 1974). Located in the southeast corner of West Virginia, New River has been carving out a gorge-like valley in the mountains for millennia, creating some of the best white water rafting, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping in the United States.

America's newest National Park and West Virginia's first National Park, New River Gorge encompasses 70,000 acres of land along the New River, a region diverse in its ecosystem and unique in its topography. A local icon now preserved and protected on a national level, park enthusiasts across the nation should consider a 2022 visit to America's newest natural treasure.

5 Days in 2022 When the NPS Will Waive ALL Entrance Fees

It is estimated that 2022 will experience similar visitation levels as 2021, with potentially even higher visitor numbers. According to the National Park Service, while park visitation experienced a dip in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, park visitation has mostly been increasing year over year since the turn of the century, with the last several years experiencing at least 300,000,000 total park visits each year, for several years in a row. Compare a figure like that to just 40 years prior, in 1980, when only about 47,000,000 visits were recorded, and one can clearly see the prominent trend of skyrocketing park visitation.

With that in mind, there are five days in 2022 when all of the parks managed by the National Park Service will waive entrance fees. However, some parks you may want to avoid on these days, as they will likely be very busy.

Here are the five days in 2022 with no entrance fees whatsoever:

- Monday, January 17th (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

- Saturday, April 16th (Celebrates the first day of National Park Week)

- Thursday, August 5th (The Anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act)

- Saturday, September 24th (National Public Lands Day)

- Friday, November 11th (Veterans Day)

Approximately 25% of the 237,000,000 park visits in 2020 occurred in just six of the 423 parks maintained by the National Park Service. While we encourage folks to check out the parks on free entrance days, some of the parks to avoid on those days (simply because they'll be so full of visitors) include:

- Great Smoky Mountains National Park

- Yellowstone National Park

- Zion National Park

- Rocky Mountain National Park

- Grand Teton National Park

- Grand Canyon National Park

But even if one carefully avoids those six most-visited parks on the roster, there are still another 417 parks to visit on any one of those five days, for free! For example, here are five parks that one park ranger suggests people who want an incredible nature experience (but without the crowds) should visit in 2022:

- Lassen Volcanic National Park (A visually stunning and less-traveled alternative to Yellowstone).

- Theodore Roosevelt National Park (Easily accessible, with similar stunning views as the Grand Canyon!)

- Bandelier National Monument (A similar experience to Mesa Verde National Park, but with a fraction of the visitation numbers).

- Devil's Postpile National Monument (Stunning rock features, not unlike Yosemite).

- Guadalupe Mountains National Park (Experience the great American Southwest, but without all the people!)

2022: Off to a Good Start

We hope you're as excited as we are about adventures, traveling, and a year of excitement and growth in 2022. And if you need travel inspiration or would like a souvenir to remember a trip to a National Park, our award-winning poster artists have created over 300 original designs of America's 63 National Parks, each inspired by the beauty and awe-inspiring wonder of these iconic natural lands.

See you on the trails,

-Ren Brabenec

Anderson Design Group Staff Writer

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