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.
Erica Jackson Curran is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia, and the founder of Parennial Travel, a travel site for millennial parents.