Sunday, September 13, 2009

National Parks - Most Visited

The Top 10 Most Visited National Parks in the U.S.

Authored by Stephanie Modkins in United States
Published on 09-10-2009

Each year, the National Parks Services (NPS) puts out a list that ranks all of the national parks across the United States (U.S.) based on their number of visitors. Why is this list important to you? This yearly NPS list can help you determine where to go for a much needed weekend get-a-away or hiking adventure. Many people use it as a guide.

Below is a list of the top 10 most visited national parks in the U.S. based on NPS 2008 statistics. Check out the description of each park and figure out which one best suits you. (You will notice that the Grand Canyon did not make it this year.)

1) Blue Ridge Parkway (PKWY) - Blue Ridge Parkway was the most visited national park in the U.S. in 2008. Affectionately known as “America’s Favorite Drive”, it received 16,309,307 visitors last year. What keeps people come back for more? Virginians and others go this park for the calm, serene atmosphere and the breathtaking mountainous ridges. Imagine any color and you will see it in the natural surrounds of Blue Ridge.

2) Golden Gate National Recreation Area (NRA) - Golden Gate NRA offsets the urban landscape of San Francisco. In 2008, this U.S. national park received 14,554,750 visitors, mainly because of the surrounding beaches and architectural beauty of the area. Just like the city it inhabits, Golden Gate NRA offers visitors diversity. So, the entire family will enjoy themselves there.

3) Gateway NRA - When New Yorkers need to escape the big city, they along with surrounding Burroughs go to Gateway NRA. In 2008, 9,431.021 visitors occupied this U.S. national park. And why not? This top 10 most visited park is a mecca for outdoor lovers. Visitors can fish, swim, explore a wildlife refuge and even check out a lighthouse. There are enough activities in this park to occupy an entire day.

4) Great Smokey Mountains NP - This top 10 most visited national park lies on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. In 2008, 9,044,010 people (mainly hikers) occupied its space. The Great Smokey Mountains NP has over 800 miles of maintained trails. As a result, U.S. citizens who enjoy a lush, green scenery flock to this national park for some traditional outdoor rest and relaxation.

5) Lake Mead NRA - Want to bask under the warm Nevada sun? If so, you will understand why 7,601,863 people visited this top 10 most visited U.S. national park in 2008. Fishermen, sunbathers, bikers, kayak riders and campers all flock to this park throughout the year. Most of the activity is near or on the lake, which is just fine with the locals.

6) George Washington Memorial (MEM) PKWY - George Washington MEM Parkway started off as a gateway to the nation’s (U.S.) capital. However, after this idea didn’t quite pan out, it was turned into a national park that drew visitors from surrounding states (Maryland, Virginia and D.C.). In 2008, this top 10 most visited national park had 7,009,630 visitors. People go to George Washington MEM PKWY because of its historic buildings, wildlife preserves and smaller park systems.

7) Natchez Trace PKWY - This top 10 most visited U.S. national park is located along the Mississippi River. In 2008, 5,747,235 peopled frequented the grounds of Natchez Trace PKWY. Locals and outsiders visits this park every year because of the bike trails, large trees and cultural events like Pioneer Days. Natchez Trace is the perfect weekend get-a-way for anyone who wants to go back to a “more simple” time.

8) Delaware Water Gap NRA - Delaware Water Gap NRA had 5,127,074 visitors in 2008. This scenic park is popular because of the historical buildings and surrounding water. People who want a trip back into the past or a day of kayaking or river rafting go to this national park. The area is quiet and the water ripe for activity.

9) Lincoln Memorial - It goes without saying why the Lincoln Memorial is one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. In 2008, 4,678,861 people inhabited its borders in order to pay homage to one of the most prolific founding fathers of America. This national park is known for the number of school children and tourists from across the world that come to see its historic building and revisit the origins of a nation.

10) Cape Cod NS - Cape Code NS is a top-notch park that is often featured in movies. The beauty of it’s beaches, cranberry bogs and ponds are what attract people and movie producers. In 2008, 4,644,235 people visited this Massachusetts park. It was just enough to get it ranked in the top 10 of the most visited national parks in the U.S.

These are the top 10 most visited national parks in the U.S. Consider taking your family to visit one of them this year. It will be an inexpensive way to enjoy a piece of America.


  1. Once again the Blue Ridge Parkway continues to be the most visited National Park Service area. I remember the peak year in the mid to late 1980s was almost 23 million visitors. That was during the period of the 50th Anniversary of the Park. 2010 will be the 75th Anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It will be interesting to see if the publicity and commemorative events in celebration will result in a visitation increase.

  2. I will most def have to visit there again one day. I remember how beautiful that area was when I was a kid!