Special Report

The Most Popular Recreation Areas in the US

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3. Lake Mead, Nevada and Arizona
> Recreation visits in 2020: 8,016,510
> Share of visits in all national recreation areas in 2020: 16.62%

The Lake Mead recreation areas, which spans 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons, lakes, and valleys, is in southern Nevada and northwestern Arizona, a short drive from Las Vegas. Water-based recreational activities are popular in the area, which has more than 750 miles of shoreline.

Source: Courtesy of Gateway National Recreation Area

2. Gateway, New York and New Jersey
> Recreation visits in 2020: 8,404,728
> Share of visits in all national recreation areas in 2020: 17.43%

The Gateway is a 27,000-acre national recreation area spanning from Breezy Point in New York to Sandy Hook in New Jersey. This is not just a destination for water-based activities though. There are several popular indoor activities, including visiting the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

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1. Golden Gate, California
> Recreation visits in 2020: 12,400,045
> Share of visits in all national recreation areas in 2020: 25.72%

The Golden Gate Bridge is by far the most recognizable feature of the San Francisco area. And there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities in the area around the bridge. In fact, the Golden Gate recreation area is home to 19 ecosystems and more than 2,000 different kinds of plants and animals. Some of the favorite short activities in the park include whale watching and going on history walking tours. Popular activities that take a few hours are hiking to the top of the Montara Mountain, riding a horse to the ocean, and hiking to the Point Bonita Lighthouse.