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Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012, 1:00 p.m.

How Washington's national parks compare

  • A canoe passes Pumpkin Mountain on Ross Lake in North Cascades National Park.

    Justin Best / The Herald

    A canoe passes Pumpkin Mountain on Ross Lake in North Cascades National Park.

  • Mount Rainier National Park, as seen from Eatonville.

    Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

    Mount Rainier National Park, as seen from Eatonville.

  • Mount Olympus, seen from Olympic National Park's High Divide Trail.

    George Tibbits / Associated Press

    Mount Olympus, seen from Olympic National Park's High Divide Trail.

An effort is under way to greatly expand the North Cascades National Park, a mountainous region between Marblemount and the Methow Valley that's nicknamed the American Alps. One of the reasons cited is that it is one of the least-visited national parks in the lower 48 states. A larger park might attract more visitors -- and more dollars -- to the region. Below is a look at how Washington's three national parks compare to others around the country.

Olympic National Park

Established: June 29, 1938
Size: 922,000 acres (1,440 square miles)
Budget: $13 million (2012)
Visitors in 2011: 2,966,502
Interesting fact: President Theodore Roosevelt created the Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation making the mountain and surrounding land a park.

Mount Rainier National Park

Established: March 2, 1899 (fifth-oldest national park)
Size: 235,625 acres (368 square miles)
Budget: $12.2 million (2012)
Visitors in 2011: 1,038,229
Interesting fact: In 2010, 10,643 people tried to climb Mount Rainier; 4,920 of them reached the summit.

North Cascades National Park

Established: Oct. 2, 1968
Size: 501,458 acres (783 square miles)
Budget: $7.4 million (2012)
Visitors in 2011: 19,208
Interesting fact: North Cascades has more than 300 glaciers, more than any other park in the Lower 48, including Glacier National Park in Montana.

U.S. national parks

Ranked by visitors in 2011.
1. Great Smoky Mountains (NC, TN)9,008,830
2. Grand Canyon (AZ)4,298,178
3. Yosemite (CA)3,951,393
4. Yellowstone (WY, ID, MT)3,394,326
5. Rocky Mountain (CO)3,176,941
6. Olympic (WA)2,966,502
7. Zion (UT)2,825,505
8. Grand Teton (WY)2,587,437
9. Acadia (ME)2,374,645
10. Cuyahoga Valley (OH)2,161,185
11. Glacier (MT)1,853,564
12. Hot Springs (AR)1,396,354
13. Joshua Tree (CA)1,396,237
14. Hawaii Volcanoes (HI)1,352,123
15. Bryce Canyon (UT)1,296,000
16. Shenandoah (VA)1,209,883
17. Arches (UT)1,040,758
18. Mount Rainier (WA)1,038,229
19. Sequoia (CA)1,006,583
20. Haleakala (HI)956,989
21. Death Valley (CA, NV)946,867
22. Everglades (FL)934,351
23. Badlands (SD)870,741
24. Capitol Reef (UT)668,834
25. Petrified Forest (AZ)614,054
26. Saguaro (AZ)610,045
27. Mesa Verde (CO)572,329
28. Kings Canyon (CA)566,810
29. Theodore Roosevelt (ND)563,407
30. Wind Cave (SD)538,394
31. Mammoth Cave (KY)483,319
32. Biscayne (FL)476,077
33. Canyonlands (UT)473,773
34. Virgin Islands (VI)442,414
35. Glacier Bay (AK)431,986
36. Crater Lake (OR)423,551
37. Denali (AK)406,582
38. Redwood (CA)380,167
39. Carlsbad Caverns (NM)365,000
40. Big Bend (TX)361,862
41. Lassen Volcanic (CA)351,269
42. Kenai Fjords (AK)346,852
43. Great Sand Dunes (CO)280,058
44. Channel Islands (CA)242,756
45. Voyageurs (MN)177,184
46. Black Canyon of the Gunnison (CO)168,336
47. Guadalupe Mountains (TX)152,546
48. Congaree (SC)120,166
49. Great Basin (NV)91,451
50. Dry Tortugas (FL)75,171
51. Wrangell-St. Elias (AK)65,225
52. Katmai (AK)48,939
53. North Cascades (WA)19,208
54. Isle Royale (MI)15,892
55. Gates of the Arctic (AK)11,623
56. Kobuk Valley (AK)11,485
57. National Park of American Samoa (AS)8,716
58. Lake Clark (AK)5,158


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