These are the national parks that receive the most visitors each year, and with good reason.
People from all over the world continue to be captivated by the breathtaking scenery that can be seen in the national parks of the United States. The National Park Service received over 237 million visitors to its many sites and national parks in the year 2020. The Blue Ridge Parkway was the most visited location, receiving over 14 million guests in the previous year. The United States is home to a spectacular variety of breathtakingly different landscapes, ranging from barren deserts and enormous gorges to snow-capped mountain peaks and verdant valleys, and it stretches from one coast to the other. When it comes to selecting the top national parks in the United States, we believe that the number of visitors should be the deciding factor.
Although each of the nation's 63 national parks is deserving of a visit, the top 15 most-visited parks are undeniably some of the very finest the country has to offer. Included on this list are iconic places like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park. It goes without saying that if you want to avoid crowds, you can always check out the national parks that receive the fewest visitors. They provide all of the beauty with only a portion of the people, so you have plenty of space to move about.
Here is a list of the 15 national parks in the United States that receive the most visitors each year.
1. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which stretches over both North Carolina and Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is by far the most popular national park in the United States, with a staggering 12.1 million visitors coming through its gates every year. This park is famous for the fauna that lives there, as well as its waterfalls and mountains that are coated in mist. It spans both North Carolina and Tennessee. However, the park truly comes into its own in the fall, when its trees put on a colorful show of red, orange, and gold leaves. Although it is worth visiting throughout the year for picturesque views and outdoor activities like hiking, autumn is when the park truly shines.
2. The state of Wyoming, the states of Montana and Idaho, as well as Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, which was the first national park in the world to be founded, saw 3.8 million visitors in the year 2020. The park was first established in 1872. Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful geyser, and Grand Prismatic Spring are just a few of the many one-of-a-kind hydrothermal features that can be found across the park's expansive 2.2 million acres, which also contain waterfalls, lakes, and a diverse array of species.
3. A Camping Guide for Yellowstone National Park 3. The Zion National Park in Utah
Zion National Park was Utah's first national park and continues to be its most visited attraction. Other national parks in Utah, such as Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Canyonlands, are considered to be among the finest in the country. During their time here, tourists can enjoy activities such as hiking, climbing, biking, birdwatching, and astronomy in addition to the magnificent environment that is shaped by dramatic cliffs and canyons.
4. Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park comes in at
Rocky Mountain National Park is the fourth most visited national park in the United States, covering a total area of 415 hilly square miles. In this area, visitors have the opportunity to observe a wide range of species, such as elk, bighorn sheep, moose, bats, and many others (of course, while maintaining a safe distance), as well as hike on one of the park's many trails. There are also a number of scenic drives within Rocky Mountain National Park. These drives allow tourists to view the park's alpine forests, wildflower-covered meadows, and other features without having to get out of their vehicles.
5. Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park comes in at
Grand Teton National Park is located in Wyoming and is the second national park in the state to make the list. The majestic Teton Range towers over the park. (If you only have time for one road trip, consider making it to Grand Teton and Yellowstone.) At this national park, majestic mountains meet alpine lakes and beautiful valleys. Visitors can enjoy activities such as mountaineering, hiking, boating, and fishing while they are here. When you go, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as bison, elk, beavers, moose, and other animals.
5. Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park comes in at
It should come as no surprise that Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States since the huge Grand Canyon is a sight that is nothing short of magnificent. The canyon is frequently listed as one of the natural wonders of the world. Hiking along the walls of the canyon, rafting down the Colorado River, taking in the sights on a journey in a scenic car or train, and gaining knowledge about the history and culture of Native Americans are all excellent ways for tourists to spend their days here.
7. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located in the state of Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which can be found in Ohio between the cities of Cleveland and Akron, is home to a wide variety of attractions and activities, such as hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, golfing, and fishing. Visit the Towpath Trail, which follows the historic course of the Ohio and Erie Canal, or take a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to take in the sights (and watch for animals such as eagles, deer, beavers, and otters) as the train travels through the region.
8. Maine's Acadia National Park comes in at
Acadia National Park, which is situated on the rugged Atlantic coastline of Maine, saw around 2.7 million visitors in the year 2020. Visitors have the option of exploring the park either on foot or by car along the park's 158 miles of hiking trails and 27 miles of historic motor roads. The majority of Acadia National Park is situated on the island of Mount Desert, which is where visitors will find the magnificent Park Loop Road as well as trails that are ideal for bird-watching, and all of this can be found within a short distance of the quaint town of Bar Harbor.
9. Washington's Olympic National Park comes in at
Each year, Olympic National Park, which is located in the Pacific Northwest, welcomes a large number of tourists. There are a variety of distinctive ecosystems and landscapes to discover within the park's nearly one million acres of land, such as temperate rain forests, a rocky Pacific coastline, and high mountain peaks, such as Mount Olympus. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore all of these areas and more during their time in the park. Popular pursuits in this park include staring at the stars, hiking, going out on the water, and more.
10. Joshua Tree National Park, located in the state of California
Joshua Tree National Park, which is located in California and is famous for its breathtaking desert terrain and the Joshua trees that give the park its name, saw over 2.4 million visitors in the year 2020. Rock climbing, horseback riding, and incredible views of the night sky await visitors who stay after dark at Joshua Tree National Park, which has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park and is therefore an ideal location for stargazing. Visitors can explore the breathtaking landscape on foot or by bicycle.
11. Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
The Indiana Dunes National Park, which is situated on the western shore of Lake Michigan and is about an hour's drive from Chicago, received more than two million visitors in the year 2020. Visitors will be able to enjoy sandy beaches as well as 50 miles of trails that wind through dunes, woodlands, and wetland areas within its 15,000 acres.
12. Yosemite National Park, located in the state of California
Yosemite National Park is not only one of the most visited national parks in the United States, but it is also one of the oldest national parks in the country. The park is well-known not only for the towering granite formations of El Capitan and Half Dome but also for the waterfalls, wildlife, and ancient sequoias that can be found there. Although you may visit the park at any time of the year, spring is the best time to go if you want to see the waterfalls in their full glory. Make it a point to stay the night at a Yosemite campground so that you can get the most out of this wonderful national park.
13. Glacier National Park, Montana [Glacier National Park]
Glacier National Park in Montana is home to a picture-perfect landscape that is characterized by the presence of glaciers, lakes, mountains, and meadows.
If you go during the summer, you should keep an eye out for wildflowers along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which is a must-see attraction. The road is partially closed during the winter due to the weather, but it typically opens in June or July. If you go during the summer, keep an eye out for the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road.
14. Shenandoah National Park, located in Virginia
In the year 2020, Shenandoah National Park welcomed more than one million visitors across its more than 200,000 acres. There are over 500 miles of hiking trails in the park that lead to summits, waterfalls, and other destinations. Some of the highlights of the park include the scenic Skyline Drive, which winds its way along the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105 miles.
15. Bryce Canyon National Park, situated in the state of Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park is the state of Utah's second most visited national park, and for good reason: it contains the world's largest concentration of hoodoos, which are tall, thin columns of rock. Additionally, the park is home to some truly incredible views. Bryce Canyon is designated as an International Dark Sky Park, which means that visitors can drive to the most popular viewpoints or go for a hike along the rim during the day, but once the sun goes down, the focus shifts to stargazing.