The 10 Oldest National Parks in the Entire World

Yellowstone National Park, Madison River Valley, American Bison Herd, Wyoming
© Gjeterhund Photography/

Written by Niccoy Walker

Updated: November 11, 2023

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The United States has a saying that national parks are “America’s best idea,” but this country isn’t the only one with stunning natural areas adorned with this important title. National parks across the world serve many purposes, with preservation as one of its primary focuses. These parks preserve endangered habitats and wildlife and are a significant resource within communities, offering recreation and education. Discover the 10 oldest national parks in the entire world and learn what landscapes they preserve and the activities they offer.

1. Bogd Khan Uul – Mongolia – 1783

Bogd Khan Uul reserve and national park in Mongolia

Bogd Khan Uul became a protected reserve in 1783.

© Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

While many claim Yellowstone in the United States as the first national park, the Qing Dynasty in Mongolia established Bogd Khan Uul as a protected reserve in 1783. It remains a Unesco biosphere reserve to this day. Bogd Khan Uul is a mountainous area in the forest-steppe zone that overlooks Ulaanbaatar. This park covers 260 square miles and is a popular hiking spot.  

2. Yellowstone National Park – United States – 1872

Perfect solitude at Grebe Lake in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is the oldest national park in America.

©Benedikt Juerges/

Located in the Western United States in the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, Yellowstone is the oldest national park in America. The 42nd U.S. Congress established this area in 1872, and many claim it as the first national park in the world. However, there is some debate regarding this issue. Along with its many geothermal features, like Old Faithful, Yellowstone preserves abundant wildlife and subalpine forests, along with many other biomes.

3. Royal National Park – Australia – 1879

beautiful scene in royal national park

Royal includes coastal cliffs and beaches.

©Sug-Joon Ahn/

The Royal National Park is in New South Wales, Australia, in the southern portion of Sydney. Sir John Robertson, a former premier of New South Wales, established this 58-square-mile national park in 1879, the first on the continent. The Royal includes Aboriginal settlements, deep river valleys, coastal cliffs, and beaches. Visitors can enjoy biking and hiking trails, BBQ areas, picnic sites, and stunning coastal scenery.

4. Banff National Park – Canada – 1885

Beautiful Nature of Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada

Banff offers unlimited outdoor recreation.


Canada’s oldest national park is Banff in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Established in 1885, Banff encompasses 2,564 square miles of mountains, glaciers, ice fields, coniferous forests, and alpine scenery. The park protects many animals, such as bighorn sheep, cougars, wolverines, moose, and grizzly bears. It is one of the most visited national parks in North America and offers unlimited outdoor recreation for the adventurous spirit. 

5. Yoho National Park – Canada – 1886

Canoeing in Emerald Lake at Yoho National Park

Yoho is in the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia.

©Pongsakorn Teeraparpwong/

Established in 1886, Yoho National Park is the second-oldest national park in Canada. It is situated in the Rocky Mountains in Southeastern British Columbia and bordered by the Kootenay National Park. This park protects some of the highest mountain peaks in the Canadian Rockies, as well as massive ice fields and many animals, like wolves, coyotes, elk, and mountain goats.

6. Tongariro – New Zealand – 1887

Tongariro protects active volcanic mountains.

© Danilov

Located in the Central North Island, Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park. Because the park is a mix of natural and cultural values, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tongariro protects active volcanic mountains, Maori religious sites, and many towns and villages. This park is also home to one of the best hiking spots in the world – Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

7. Sequoia – United States – 1890

General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park, California

The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia, California is a big tourist attraction.

©Nick Fox/

The Sequoia National Park is in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Established in 1890, this park protects 631 square miles of forested mountains, including the highest location in the country at 14,5005 feet on Mount Whitney. One of the park’s most notable features is its towering sequoia trees and the largest tree in the world by volume – the General Sherman tree. 

8. Yosemite National Park – United States – 1890

Beautiful nature pictures of the Yosemite National Park in California USA

Yosemite features cliffs, waterfalls, sequoia groves, mountains, and lakes.


Another California location, Yosemite covers nearly 760,000 acres in four counties in the east-central region of the state. This national park and world heritage site is famed for its giant cliffs, waterfalls, enormous sequoia groves, mountains, lakes, glaciers, meadows, and more. It has immense biological diversity, and around 95% of the park is wilderness. Yosemite is open year-round and provides nature walks, photography, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, and camping. 

9. Waterton Lakes – Canada – 1895

Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada. It borders Glacier National Park in Montana in the United States.

Waterton Lakes is in Alberta, Canada. It borders Glacier in Montana.

©Steve Allen/

The Waterton Lakes National Park is in Southwestern Alberta, Canada. It was formed in 1895 and ranges between the Rocky Mountains and vast prairies. It covers 195 square miles of high, rugged peaks and deep wilderness. Waterton Lakes is a popular hiking destination, and it protects many animals, like bears, wolves, and bison.  

10. Mount Rainier – United States – 1899

Wild flowers in the grass on a background of mountains.

Mount Rainier includes the massive stratovolcano.

©RomanKhomlyak/iStock via Getty Images

This beautiful American park is in Washington state in Pierce and Lewis Counties. Established in 1899, Mount Rainier National Park is the fourth oldest in the United States. It encompasses 369 square miles and includes all of Mount Rainier, an enormous stratovolcano. It also protects the Cascade Range, valleys, subalpine meadows, old-growth forests, and waterfalls.

A Recap of the 10 Oldest National Parks in the Entire World

RankOldest National Parks in the Entire WorldLocationDate Established
#1Bogd Khan Uul National ParkMongolia1783
#2Yellowstone National ParkUnited States1872
#3Royal National ParkAustralia1879
#4Banff National ParkCanada1885
#5Yoho National ParkCanada1886
#6Tongariro National ParkNew Zealand1887
#7Sequoia National ParkUnited States1890
#8Yosemite National ParkUnited States1890
#9Waterton Lakes National ParkCanada1895
#10Mount Rainier National ParkUnited States1899

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer for A-Z Animals, and her primary focus is on birds, travel, and interesting facts of all kinds. Niccoy has been writing and researching about travel, nature, wildlife, and business for several years and holds a business degree from Metropolitan State University in Denver. A resident of Florida, Niccoy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, and spending time at the beach.

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