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    Top 5 differences between National Parks in the US and UK

    6 min read

    By Alex Kendall
    More by Alex

    Can you compare the Cairngorms National Park with Yosemite?

    Wilderness Guide, Alex Kendall looks at the Top 5 differences between National Parks in the US and UK.

    1. Wilderness

    There is no doubt that the size and remoteness of the US national parks adds to their claim to wilderness. They even have a ‘Wilderness’ designation attached to areas where modern human impact should essentially be zero.

    In the UK, people live and work in the national parks, and there are open mines, active forestry and farming within their boundaries. Within the Wilderness of the US parks, some of the larger wildlife must be more carefully considered than the wildlife in the UK.

    Protecting food from bears can be a big issue in parks such as Yosemite in the US. However, will larger predators make a return to the UK?

    Top 5 differences between National Parks in the US and UK

    Black bears roaming close to a main pathway in Yosemite. Photo by Anna from the office after her trip last year.

    2. Motive

    Check out these articles on the Cairngorms

    Although it is great to think of the altruistic influences that set national parks aside for nature conservation and public access to the outdoors, this was more evident in the UK rather than the US.

    The UK national parks were finally created following the second world war to get people into nature and were led by a grassroots movement that was dedicated to access.

    In the US, although the desire for conservation was there, the main driver behind the creation of Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, was the desire from the railway companies to open up holiday destinations and get people to them via rail. The national park designation was partly to stop others developing it.

    3. Management

    Land ownership is very different in the UK and the US, where national parks were designated by the government and remain government property, managed by the national park bodies.

    In the UK on the other hand the parks were created in areas where thousands of people had homes and livelihoods where the land was in private ownership.

    National park authorities only own tiny amounts of land within the parks, and act more as planning authorities able to veto new development. Having said that, charities like the National Trust do own a lot of land within national parks, and mostly have similar objectives to the park authorities.

    The Wilderness Scotland office is located within the Cairngorms National Park, making it a very inspiring place to work!

    Top 5 differences between National Parks in the US and UK

    The view from the Wilderness Office inside the Cairngorms National Park.

     

    • Visit our multi-location page to find out about all our trips that explore different regions of Scotland.

    4. Access

    The freedom to roam where we want in the hills was the result of years of fighting in the UK. England and Wales have open access lands in most mountainous areas, meaning people can walk where they like.

    In Scotland this freedom is more widespread, and the assumption is that an area has public access. Because of the restrictions south of the border before open access rules came along, a vast rights of way network grew up, which frequently crosses moors, goes through fields and leads up mountains.

    In the mountains of Scotland this type of network was never needed, so people have become far more used to heading up a mountain with no sign of a path. This attitude has been remarked on by American visitors, who are used to the set trails through US national parks and trekking outside of these paths is less common.

    5. Adventure

    Despite the many differences between the UK and the US national parks, especially in size and amount of development, the opportunities for adventure are pretty equal!

    It’s incredible to think we live on an island which at one end has vineyards and at the other, the arctic plateau of the Cairngorms. So wherever you live, get out there and see the national parks when you can; they were hard won, and each have a lifetime of adventure to offer.

    Why not come hiking in the UK’s National Park with us?

    Explore one or both of Scotland’s National Parks or join us for a journey around four National Parks in Scotland and Northern England.

    Below are a list of our holidays that visit National Parks:

    Related Departures

    Trip Date Price Availability Book
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside 17th Apr - 23rd Apr 2021 £1,5658 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - National Parks of the UK 18th Apr - 27th Apr 2021 £2,4956 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - National Parks of the UK 9th May - 18th May 2021 £2,5452 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside 15th May - 21st May 2021 £1,5654 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park 15th May - 21st May 2021 £1,6756 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside 29th May - 4th Jun 2021 £1,5655 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park 19th Jun - 25th Jun 2021 £1,6757 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside 26th Jun - 2nd Jul 2021 £1,5652 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - National Parks of the UK 27th Jun - 6th Jul 2021 £2,5458 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park 10th Jul - 16th Jul 2021 £1,6756 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside 24th Jul - 30th Jul 2021 £1,5658 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside 7th Aug - 13th Aug 2021 £1,5658 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park 14th Aug - 20th Aug 2021 £1,6751 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - National Parks of the UK 15th Aug - 24th Aug 2021 £2,5458 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park 11th Sep - 17th Sep 2021 £1,6752 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside 18th Sep - 24th Sep 2021 £1,5657 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - National Parks of the UK 19th Sep - 28th Sep 2021 £2,5458 place(s) leftBook Now
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside 9th Oct - 15th Oct 2021 £1,5658 place(s) leftBook Now

    Meet the Author: Alex Kendall

    “Mountain running fanatic, Alex has adventured all over the planet.”

    View profileMore by Alex

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