The Most Visited National Parks in 2018

The numbers are in! Drumroll, please! It’s time to review the list of most visited national parks in 2018!

Each year the National Park Service Office of Communications releases a massive visitor use statistics report from the previous year. The database is searchable by state and by individual park unit, painting an incredible picture of how more than 300 million people enjoyed America’s public spaces last year.

In 2018, more than 318 million people visited a national park. While down from 330 million in 2016 and 2017, this is the third highest visitor count ever.

As we have since 2016, we’re sharing the Top 10 List of Most Visited National Parks in 2018. While there were no new faces on the list this year, there were some changes to the order of the most visited parks.

Hopefully, the list inspires an upcoming #parkchasing trip of your own and for you to continue spending time in our most treasured places.

The Top 10 List of Most Visited National Parks in 2018

1.Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11,421,200

Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina continues to dominate the list of most visited national parks. It’s been at the top of the list of recreation visits to a national park since they began keeping that record in 1979.

With more than 11 million visitors, the park continues to be a mecca for hikers, campers and those just looking for a scenic drive. Yet, managing air quality and crowd control continue to be the biggest challenges to Great Smoky Mountain’s success. As one of the national parks we have yet to visit, we can’t wait to see what 11 million other people enjoyed about the park!

2.Grand Canyon National Park – 6,380,495

We are proud to say we were among the 6.3 million visitors to Grand Canyon National Park last year! Our April 2018 visit to the South Rim was good introduction to the park and had us looking forward to a future visit. We might even attempt a rafting trip on the Colorado River next time around! Check out our posts for planning your own Grand Canyon adventure:

3. Rocky Mountain National Park – 4,590,493

Rocky Mountain National Park squeaked up one position from #4 in 2017 to #3 in 2018. With more than 4.5 million visitors, the park continues to grow as one of the top national park destinations in the west. We love that Rocky has something for everyone. Hiking, camping, great wildlife, and some gorgeous views. It’s one the national park we’ve written the most about on Park Chasers:

4. Zion National Park – 4,320,033

We also get to claim a small part of the 4.3 million visitors who took a trip to Zion National Park in 2018. As many of you said it would, our first trip to Zion delivered everything we could have imagined and more.

Down one from the #3 spot this year, Zion National Park experienced some major weather events that dramatically changed the park landscape. Trail and road closures due to flash flooding, snowstorms and landslides may have played a part in the drop in visitors from 2017. All the more reason to plan a trip now!

5. Yellowstone National Park – 4,115,000

Yellowstone National Park has a lot to celebrate this month. Not only did it climb up one spot on the visitor’s rankings to the #5 slot, but also the park celebrated it’s founding on March 1st as our first national park. For more than 140 years tourists from all over the world have come to share in the magic of Yellowstone. It was one of the first national parks we visited and will always be a favorite spot to return!

6.Yosemite National Park – 4,009,436

Among the Top 10 most visited national parks in 2018, Yosemite National Park had one of the largest decreases in visitation this year. While more than 4 million people visited the park, that number was down 7.6% over 2017 and the lowest number since 2014.

Several factors likely contributed to the drop, including dangerous wildfires in the park and surrounding areas, as well as landslides that temporarily closed some popular areas of the park.

7. Acadia National Park – 3,537,575

Holding strong to the #7 spot on the Top 10 most visited national parks, Acadia National Park in Maine continues to be a favorite. Good hiking. Gorgeous coastline. And close to some of the best seafood in the United States. We recommend it for those new to the national parks and more experienced travelers alike!

8. Grand Teton National Park – 3,491,151

Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming saw a nice boost in visitation this year, moving up from the #9 spot to rank #8 in total visitors in 2018. We love that Grand Teton has something to offer in all seasons. Smaller and more intimate than it’s neighbor Yellowstone, we love the trails and the sunsets here. One of our favorite days in a national park was spent cross-country skiing in the shadow of the Teton Mountains.

9.Olympic National Park – 3,104,455

Dropping one spot to #9, Washington’s Olympic National Park also saw large dips in visitation this year. Down more than 10% over visitation in 2017, Olympic also faced weather-related challenges this year created extended road and campground closures. Another possible impact on Olympic’s visitation was the explosion in visitors to nearby Mount Rainier National Park. More than 100,000 people visited that park in 2018 than in 2017, the largest increase in two decades.

10. Glacier National Park – 2,965,309

Once again, Glacier National Park has hung on final spot on the list of Top 10 Most Visited National Parks in 2018. Topping Joshua Tree National Park by the tiny margin of 22,000 visitors, Glacier stays on the list this year. Visitation was most impacted by the wildfire closures in the Lake McDonald area of the park for the second tourism season in a row. Glacier is one of the many examples of parks on this list who continue to be shaped by the forces of climate change.

Curious what the least visited national parks in 2018 were? Stay tuned for a post next week recapping the parks with the fewest total visitors!

THE PARKCHASERS

THE PARKCHASERS

Greg & Amy
Chasing a visit to all 400+ units in the NPS
Current Count: 98/423

WHERE WE ARE NOW

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