Ben Waggoner:

A couple of folks have listed Northeast Greenland National Park, at 927,000 square kilometers (375,000 square miles). But the U.S. has a larger reserve. It’s not officially called a National Park, but it is a National Monument. (The difference is that National Parks can only be created by an act of Congress, but a President can declare any federally owned territory in the U.S. as a National Monument. Many National Monuments have gone on to be declared National Parks, and most are managed by the National Park System, although this one is managed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, or the NOAA.) So you can decide whether you want to let this "count" as the largest national park; even though its official designation is National Monument, it’s a national park for all intents and purposes.

May I introduce you to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument—1,510,000 square kilometers, or 583,000 square miles, and almost all of it water, although it includes 10 islands.


I don’t say this often, but I appreciate George W. Bush, for having created this monument in June 2006 (as the Northwest Hawaiian Islands National Monument). Almost all of it was already part of the State of Hawaii, although no one was living on any of the islands. It includes some earlier refuges and monuments, such as the Battle of Midway National Memorial. It was expanded in 2016 to the edges of the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

The monument protects 7000 species of marine animals, as well as birds and plants, including many endangered ones, and many fish and shellfish populations that have not yet recovered from overfishing in the 1980s and 1990s. (You can learn more at the official Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument website.)

It doesn’t look like much on the surface:


But the view from below is pretty good:


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