Did you know there are former U.S. National Parks still worth a visit?
RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers know how lucky the U.S. is to have a National Parks Service that lets them get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful locations in North America.
We write about them often — highlighting the best parks in the west, the best parks in the winter, and the best time of year to visit popular parks. Even the ones that are no longer “official parks.” Chances are many of them are on your RVing bucket lists.
Here are six of them:
Formerly: Platt National Park in Sulphur, Oklahoma
Currently: Sulphur Springs Reservation
Platt National Park was created in 1902 through a pact between the U.S. government and the Chickasaw Nation.
Originally it was called the Sulphur Springs Reservation, and the people living on the land were forced to move out of the boundaries of the national park.
The park actually opened to the public in 1904 but was absorbed into the Chickasaw National Recreation Area (CNRA) in 1976.
The CNRA is located in the Arbuckle Mountains in Murray County near the city of Sulphur. Pavilions, park buildings, and other enclosures are located throughout the land, along with an abundance of lakes, streams, and rivers.
Boating, fishing, camping, and more are all available. Not to mention, the CNRA is some of the most beautifully preserved lands in North America, offering travelers a real treat.
Formerly: Sullys Hill National Park (Fort Totten, North Dakota)
Currently: Sullys Hill National Game Reserve
The former Sullys Hill National Park is now known as the Sullys Hill National Game Reserve.
It was established by President Roosevelt in 1904, but by 1931 the NPS no longer oversaw the protection and development. Instead,
Sullys Hill National Game Reserve would go on to be managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service that oversees the hunting and fishing in the area.
Sullys Hill National Game Reserve features wooded hills and marshes. It is full of American bison, elk, white-tailed deer, and prairie dogs.
The entire reserve brings waves of bird watchers from across North America. The visitor center located in reserve helps travelers understand the history of the land and the animals that graze through it. If you love hunting and fishing, Sullys Hill is for you.
Formerly: Mackinac National Park (Mackinac Island, Michigan)
Currently: Mackinac Island State Park
Of course, I'll be partial to this one as it is one of our favorite getaways in Michigan. Just check out some of the stories we have done here. (The lighthouse at the top of this story is the Round Island Light, which can be seen when traveling to Mackinac Island via ferry — the only way to go unless you fly.)
Mackinac National Park was established in 1895 and transferred to the state 20 years later.
The second national park created in the U.S. after Yellowstone, Mackinac Island State Park encompasses less than four square miles of land.
The island bans cars, which means visitors are in for a treat on foot (or bike, or carriage) when visiting this state park.
Fort Mackinac and Fort Holmes, along with other historical buildings on the island, give visitors an insight into the area’s history. Limestone caves and rock formations are unique to the area.
Formerly: Fort McHenry National Park (Baltimore, Maryland)
Currently: Fort McHenry National Monument
Like many national treasures located in the U.S., Fort McHenry National Park eventually became a national monument. Established in 1925, it went from park to monument 14 years later in 1939.
Its official name is now Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Fun fact: It inspired The Star-Spangled Banner.
Fort McHenry, located in the heart of Baltimore, Maryland, played a pivotal role during the War of 1812. Soldiers defended Baltimore Harbor from the British Navy attacking from the Chesapeake Bay.
During the war, the bastion fort’s storm flag flew overhead during bombardments from the British, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write a poem that eventually became America’s National Anthem.
Formerly: Abraham Lincoln National Park (Hodgenville, Kentucky)
Currently: Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park
President Abraham Lincoln's childhood home was made a national park in 1916, however, it was disbanded by the NPS in 1939. Now called the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park, this historic park oversees two farm sites in LaRue County where Lincoln was born and grew up.
The park features a visitor’s center in Lincoln’s childhood home for travelers to learn more about him. A replica of the log cabin Lincoln was allegedly born in was reconstructed on-site as the original was deconstructed before 1865. If you want to learn more about President Lincoln, his childhood home is the place to start.
Honorable Mentions: The U.S. most recent National Parks
It is worth noting that even though the great lands discussed above no longer have National Park status, new lands are getting the designation every year. In December 2019, White Sands National Park, and in December 2020, West Virginia's New River Gorge are the latest to gain National Park greatness. Be sure to put them on your list to visit!
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