Thursday, February 18, 2016

West dominates most-visited U.S.national parks list

Yellowstone National Park
It should come as no surprise that national parks in the western states draw more visitors than other national parks in the United States. What is surprising is that Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park is no longer the most visited park in the nation.

Grand Canyon drew 5.5 million visitors in 2015, but this figure was almost doubled by Great Smoky Mountains National Park with 10.7 million visitors, according to statistics recently released  by the National Park Service.

Grand Canyon topped five million visitors for the first time last year. It was one of 57 parks to set attendance records, the park service said. The park service is expecting the number of visitors to increase substantially this year as 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service.

Western parks on the top 10 parks attracting the most visitors last year include:
  • No. 2L Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 5.5 million.
  • No. 3: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 4.15 million visitors.
  • No. 4: Yosemite National Park, California, 4.1 million visitors.
  • No. 5: Yellowstone National Park, Montana and Wyoming, 4.1 million visitors.
  • No. 6: Zion National Park, Utah, 3.6 million people.
  • No. 7: Olympic National Park, Washington State, 3.3 million visitors.
  • No. 8: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 3.1 million visitors.
  • No. 10: Glacier National Park, Montana,  2,4 million visitors.
Maine's Acadia National Park came in at No. 9 with 2.8 million visitors.

The west didn't fare as well when all sites, including recreation areas and historic monuments, are considered. These sites number 410 compared to 59 national parks.

Grand Canyon, which ranked second on the most-visited national park list, dropped to 10th on the most visited of all NPS sites. Blue Ridge Parkway topped the list with 15 million visitors, while California's Golden Gate National Recreational Area was second with 14.9 million visitors. Lake Mead National Recreation Area was No. 5 with 7.3 million visitors.

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