Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Jointly managed by the indigenous Anangu and Australia’s park service in the Northern Territory, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is famed for the red-rock Uluru monolith that towers over the land. Sacred ground for the Anangu people, the formation, also called Ayer’s Rock, has long been a point of controversy between the tribe and visitors seeking to scale the dangerous rock. A long-awaited ban on climbing Uluru is set to take effect in October 2019, but you can still hike around the domes of Kata Tjuta and visit ancient rock art sites around the park.
The United States may lay claim to the world’s first national park, but it’s far from the only country whose most prized lands are officially protected by the government.
After the establishment of Yellowstone in 1872, the national park concept took hold across America and beyond. Canada founded its first national parks in the 1880s; the idea eventually spread across the Atlantic to Great Britain after World War I, then later to its colonies. Japan and Mexico embraced the concept in the 1930s and dozens of other countries followed suit over the course of the 20th century.
New national parks are being designated around the world today, with every acre of protected land representing a small step forward for conservationists. In 2019, Indiana Dunes National Park became America’s 61st, while millions of acres across Peru, China, and Finland have achieved national park status in recent years.
From ancient rock formations in Australia to towering glaciers in Patagonia, national parks around the globe offer visitors the chance to experience wild landscapes and help protect biodiversity. Here are 20 of our favorites.
- Nat Geo Expeditions