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America’s most-visited national parks, by the numbers

Over 318 million people visited a national park last year

A view of the Park Avenue Trailhead in Utah’s Arches National Park, one of the 28 parks that set a new record for visitation in 2018.

From the Great Smoky Mountains to the coast of Olympic National Park, 2018 marked another busy year for our national park system. Many parks saw a record-number of people in 2018 as visitations to all national parks exceeded 300 million recreation visits for the fourth consecutive year.

In total, approximately 318 million people visited a national park last year, making it the third busiest year since record keeping began in 1904. Out of the 385 parks that report visitation figures, 28 set a new record for visitation in 2018, with 17 parks breaking a record that was set in 2017. Parks that saw record visits included Arches, Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Joshua Tree, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

The takeaway? More and more people are visiting national parks, and the trend shows no sign of slowing.

The most-visited national parks include the Great Smoky Mountains (11.4M) and the Grand Canyon (6.3M), two parks that have been trading places at one and two since 1979. Other parks in the top five include Rocky Mountain National Park (4.5M), Zion National Park (4.3M) and Yellowstone National Park (4.1M). Lesser known national parks are also seeing an uptick in visitation; 77 parks—or about 20 percent of reporting parks—had over 1 million recreation visits.

In addition, the 318 million figure includes visits to sites that are managed by the National Park Service that aren’t necessarily national parks. In California, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area saw over 15 million visitors, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. recorded 7.8 million, and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area saw 7.5 million visitors.

Take a look at the full list of the most popular national parks, below.

Top 10 Most Popular National Parks:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park — 11,421,200 visits
  2. Grand Canyon National Park — 6,380,495 visits
  3. Rocky Mountain National Park — 4,590,493 visits
  4. Zion National Park — 4,320,033 visits
  5. Yellowstone National Park — 4,115,000 visits
  6. Yosemite National Park — 4,009,436 visits
  7. Acadia National Park — 3,537,575 visits
  8. Grand Teton National Park — 3,491,151 visits
  9. Olympic National Park — 3,104,455 visits
  10. Glacier National Park — 2,965,309 visits