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Fun Facts: Celebrating 101 Years of National Parks

UFOs, deep lakes, high mountains and more!

August 26, 2016

Editor’s note: This story was originally published to celebrate a century of national parks. We’ve updated the headline to reflect another anniversary. 

What’s that in the sky?

  • The term “flying saucer” was coined following one of the first post-war UFO sightings over Mt. Rainier. On June 24, 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold claimed that he saw a string of nine UFOs flying past Mt. Rainier at an estimated speed of over 1,200 miles per hour.

Every kid in a park!

  • This new White House youth initiative was advanced to get all fourth graders and their families to experience the places that are home to our country’s natural treasures, rich history, and vibrant culture FREE OF CHARGE! 

Don’t tell this to that kid from The Giving Tree...

  • Sequoia National Park, Calif. is home to the largest living single-stem tree in the world, a mighty giant named General Sherman. Standing at 275 feet tall, it is a full 124 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty!

Photo credit: AlbertHerring on Flickr Creative CommonsHighs and lows

  • Both the highest and lowest points in North America can be found in national parks: Alaska's Denali, (20,320 feet above sea level) and Badwater Basin in Death Valley, Calif. (282 feet below sea level).

Deep thoughts

  • Oregon's Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world. Its maximum depth is 1,946 feet. For reference, that is twice the height of Columbia Center, the tallest skyscraper in downtown Seattle.          

A different kind of “Seattle freeze”

  • Washington is the second most glaciated state in the United states (Alaska ranks first), with 449 kilometers of glaciers and perennial snow and ice features (Alaska has 90,000 kilometers of glaciers).

Don't forget your umbrella

  • The scenic Olympic Mountains of Olympic National Park overlook the Hoh Rain Forest and Quinault Rain Forest, the wettest areas in the continental United States. The Pacific Northwest temperate rain forest is one of only seven in the world and the only one in North America.

“I’ll take a volcano — on the rocks, please.”

  • Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano, is the most prominent peak in the Cascades, and is covered by 26 named glaciers, including Carbon Glacier and Emmons Glacier, the largest in the continental United States.

Photo credit: The White House photo stream on Flickr Creative Commons

The President’s backyard is a national park

  • Every U.S. President, with the exception of George Washington, has called the White House and its surrounding grounds his place of work, rest and solitude. The White House and grounds are considered one of our country's national park sites. 

Parks galore!

  • The National Park System has 59 parks that carry the name "national park." That number climbs to 409 park units managed by the park service when you include the many national monuments, preserves, seashores, battlefields, historic sites and other such park units designated by Congress.

    Top image credit: AlbertHerring on Flickr Creative Commons. Clip art added. 

More National Parks Inspiration

National Parks Centennial: One Hundred Years of Memories

A College Guide to the Seattle Outdoors

Explore the Outdoors: Yakima River Canyon

Family-Friendly Hiking on Mt. Rainier

A Many Glacier Weekend

A National Park in Downtown Seattle