The Largest Urban Parks in the World

April 2, 2024

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Woman hiking in Canadian park

Urban parks date back to the 19th century, around the time of the Industrial Revolution, which saw the overcrowding and pollution of towns and cities. To counteract this, city parks were established to mitigate the effects of pollution, improve the aesthetics of urban areas, and provide a space for people to relax, exercise, and socialize with others.

Today, towns and cities are growing at an exceptionally fast pace, which means urban parks are increasingly important for our health and well-being. Governments across the world have recognized the importance of green spaces, and as urban areas grow, so does the need for bigger parks.

In this article, we reveal the ten largest urban parks in the world. Continue reading to find out what they are.

1. Chugach State Park

Chugach State Park
Chugach State Park, Alaska
Country: United States
Size: 495,199 acres

Covering almost half a million acres, Chugach State Park is by far the largest urban park in the world. It is also the third-largest state park in the US after Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California and Wood-Tikchik State Park in western Alaska. Chugach State Park is located in south-central Alaska, almost entirely within the municipality of Anchorage. A small portion of the park also lies within the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Chugach State Park was established to protect Anchorage’s water supply, provide recreational activities, and preserve the beauty of the landscape — most notably the Chugach Mountains.

Visitors to the park can enjoy a range of activities, such as guided hiking, ATV tours, cross-country skiing, nature trails, educational talks, and wildlife spotting. Hunting and fishing are also permitted. However, target practice is not.

Some of the wildlife that can be spotted in Chugach State Park include bald eagles, moose, grizzly bears, brown bears, and black bears.

2. Gatineau Park

Pink Lake, Gatineau Park
Pink Lake, Gatineau Park
Country: Canada
Size: 89,205 acres

Gatineau Park in Canada covers a land area of more than 89,200 acres in the Outaouais region of western Quebec. The park extends from the city of Gatineau into parts of the municipalities of Chelsea, La Pêche, and Pontiac.

The park has plenty of activities and facilities to keep visitors entertained, such as hiking and cycling trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ziplining, canoeing, motorboating, fishing, horseback riding, beaches, campgrounds, and picnic areas.

Gatineau Park is rich in biodiversity. It is home to many bird species, like the pileated woodpecker, turkey vultures, and migrating hawks, as well as mammals, including beavers, black bears, and wolves.

3. Forest of Fontainebleau

Forest of Fontainebleau
Walking trail in the Forest of Fontainebleau
Country: France
Size: 61,776 acres

Located 37 miles southeast of Paris, the majority of the Forest of Fontainebleau lies in the administrative division of Fontainebleau, with portions extending into neighboring divisions.

Arguably one of France’s most beautiful forests, Fontainebleau has inspired many artists, and it is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve consisting of deciduous trees, sandy desert, and gorges.

The park has many attractions for visitors, such as hiking, guided walking tours, cycling tours, horseback riding courses, bouldering, and bird spotting. Some of the bird species that can be seen in the forest include the great spotted woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, blue tit, chiffchaff, and willow warbler.

4. Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain National Park
Trails of Table Mountain National Park
Country: South Africa
Size: 54,610 acres

Located in Cape Town, Table Mountain National Park was established to protect the natural environment around Table Mountain, and today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The park’s two most famous landmarks are Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope. The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland at the southern end of Cape Peninsula.

Some of the activities that Table Mountain National Park has to offer include hiking or taking a cable car up Table Mountain, mountain biking, mountain climbing, bird spotting, and game viewing. The large colony of African penguins at Boulders Beach is another popular tourist attraction.

Animals like lions, leopards, elephants, black rhinos, hyenas, and jackals no longer exist in the area. However, smaller mammals like caracals and antelopes are still present, and the park is the only place where the rare Table Mountain ghost frog can be found.

5. Forest of Rambouillet

Forest of Rambouillet
Two stags in the Forest of Rambouillet
Country: France
Size: 54,363 acres

Located just southwest of Paris, the town of Rambouillet sits on the forest’s southern edge. The Forest of Rambouillet is popular with visitors for its wide range of recreational activities, from hiking, cycling, and horseback riding to farm animal workshops.

Interestingly, the Forest of Rambouillet has been home to a wild group of wallabies since 1970, when some of the animals escaped from a zoo in Émancé.

6. Margalla Hills National Park

Margalla Hills National Park
Margalla Hills, Islamabad
Country: Pakistan
Size: 42,962 acres

Taking the sixth spot on the world’s largest urban parks list is Margalla Hills National Park, which covers almost 43,000 acres. It may only be the third-largest of Pakistan’s national parks, but it is the most accessible, situated close to the country’s capital, Islamabad. 

Margalla Hills National Park is named after the Margalla Hills, a hill range that forms the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Every day, the park receives thousands of visitors who come to hike, rock climb, eat picnics, and admire the surrounding scenery from natural viewpoints.

Many mammal, bird, and reptile species inhabit Margalla Hills National Park, including leopards, jungle cats, deer, boars, jackals, flying foxes, mongooses, vultures, falcons, vipers, and cobras.

7. Pedra Branca State Park

Pedra Branca State Park
The boundary of Pedra Branca State Park and the neighborhood of Curicica.
Country: Brazil
Size: 30,626 acres

The seventh-largest urban park in the world is Brazil’s Pedra Branca State Park which covers more than 30,600 acres. Located in the state of Rio de Janeiro, it protects part of the Atlantic Forest in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Exercising, picnicking, and trekking are just some of the recreational activities that are available in this city park. Guided tours are also available, but one of the park’s biggest attractions is the Barata Waterfall, which is a series of falls with an artificial swimming pool at the bottom.

Pedra Branca State Park is home to more than 330 bird species, 20 of which are threatened, and 51 mammal species, eight of which are threatened. Among these threatened species are the channel-billed toucan, the brown-throated sloth, and the collared anteater.

8. McDowell Sonoran Preserve

McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Sunset at McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Country: United States
Size: 30,394 acres

The second US urban park to feature on this list, McDowell Sonoran Preserve is situated in Arizona, in the city of Scottsdale.

This protected desert habitat supports an abundance of wildlife, from the bobcat and the coyote to the prairie falcon and the great horned owl to the long-nosed leopard lizard and the Sonoran desert tortoise. 

McDowell Sonoran Preserve has more than 180 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails and offers guided tours for visitors who want to learn about the park. Other popular activities include rock climbing and mountain biking.

9. Losiny Ostrov National Park

Losiny Ostrov National Park
Losiny Ostrov National Park (Elk island)
Country: Russia
Size: 28,664 acres

Located in Russia’s capital, Moscow, Losiny Ostrov National Park is the largest urban park in Europe and the second-oldest national park in Russia after Sochi National Park.

The park is one of the only places in Moscow where people can see mammals like moose, wild boars, red foxes, beaver, and weasels in their natural environment. Lucky visitors can also spot bird species like goshawks, hobby falcons, kestrels, and red-footed falcons.

10. Franklin Mountains State Park

Franklin Mountains State Park
Franklin Mountains State Park, Texas
Country: United States
Size: 24,246 acres

Rounding off our list of the largest urban parks in the world is Franklin Mountains State Park. The park was established to protect Texas’s Franklin Mountains.

Franklin Mountains State Park offers more than 100 miles of trails of varying difficulties. As well as hiking, visitors to the park can enjoy activities like mountain biking, rock climbing, camping, picnicking, and scenic driving. It also provides excellent bird spotting, with many species passing through the area.

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