According to recent National Park statistics and coinciding National Geographic Article, the names of the most popular National Parks are familiar, but you might not have guessed the order in which they rank. With spring break in full swing right now, many of you may be experiencing these praks firsthand right now, and for those making future plans, perhaps the big crowds of these most popular National Parks might sway your decision on when and where to go:
Great Smoky Mountains – 10 million visitors / year
10 million visitors is of course a large number, but also keeping in consideration the 816 square miles the park incorporates, plus the number of “visitors” who really never explore further than the shoulder of the road, and you’ll still get your chance to explore some nature with a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains.
Grand Canyon – 5.5 million visitors / year
Touted as the biggest hole in the ground, the Grand Canyon is truly grand. Comprising over 275 miles of canyon, and over a mile deep into the ground, the crowds at the Rim can be bustling but if you are an ambitious day hiker or gain a permit to camp at the bottom, it can be easy enough to avoid the crowds.
Yellowstone – 4.1 million visitors / year
Acting as the Nation’s first National Park, Yellowstone set a high bar in terms of pure size and beauty within a park. There is a lifetime of adventure waiting for you at Yellowstone, including wildlife watching and geyser spouting, so what are you waiting for? Join the crowd and head to Yellowstone.
Yosemite – 4 million visitors / year
Yosemite has captured the hearts and minds of many influential people over the years, and each year new adventurers visit the park. A popular place to explore and snap a picture includes Yosemite Valley, where the famous El Capitan, Half-Dome, and Bridalveil Falls stand erected in the distance.
Zion – 3.6 million visitors / year
Zion! Translated to “Heaven on Earth” the aptly named Zion National Park encompasses a beauty that can only be found in Utah. Stark red canyon walls, lush water-fed forests, and enough heights, cracks and trails to explore all day, Zion is a must on everyone’s bucket list.
Rocky Mountain – 3.4 million visitors / year
Stunning mountain vistas, switchbacking trails and of course that high elevation attitude, there are more reasons to check out this Colorado staple than you can count, but you can count on finding at least a little peace and quiet within these amazing mountain vistas.
Olympic – 3 million visitors / year
Home to the largest temperate rainforest in the United States, Olympic National Park offers its users e a life on the set of the 1992 Disney classic FernGully. But really, this lush atmosphere is everything you’d expect from a rain forest, including the rain, but that never stops over 3 million visitors checking out Olympic each year.
Grand Teton – 3.1 million visitors / year
Standing as a strong testament to the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the Teton Range of Wyoming presents viewers with an incredible view and even more options for adventure. Whether you camp out under the stars or hike all day (or both) a trip to the Grand Tetons will be well worth the adventure.
Acadia – 2.5 million visitors / year
Acadia National Park is open year round but the busiest seasons tends to be in the summer when the blue waters are even more inviting to each visitor. Maine might be a bit of a stretch for your average western wayfarer, but to see the best the east has to offer, Acadia should be on the top of your list.
Glacier – 2.4 million visitors / year
Glacier is the gateway to the Canadian wilderness and is the only National Park where you can drive until you hit the sun. The famous Going-to-the-Sun road, which spans the distance of the park, is often touted as the most scenic road in world. Doesn’t that just make you want to see Glacier for yourself?