As travel restrictions and quarantine mandates have largely lifted across the United States and Americans are starting to travel again, many are undertaking road trips, and setting their sights on National Parks. Many of these saw record numbers of visitors this spring and are anticipating their busiest summer ever.
It’s no wonder. Not only do our National Parks feature popular canyons, waterfalls, old growth-forests, and snow-capped mountains; some also encompass far rarer sites such as deserts, fjords, temperate rainforests, and volcanoes. These are the National Parks that have grown the most in popularity since 1980.
To identify the most visited national park in every state and U.S. territory, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data tracked for 2020 by the National Park Service (NPS). The National Parks Social Science Program coordinates the collection of recreational visitation statistics for more than 400 government-run facilities throughout the year. These include many classifications of National Park — among them National Preserve, National Historic Site, National Recreation Area, National Monument, even National Seashore and National River.
This report documents the number of recreation visitors and visitor days for all NPS units that reported public use data in 2020 and displays the percent change from the previous year. As a result, and likely due to COVID-19-related closures in 2020, the most visited park in Delaware was not possible to identify. These are the most popular National Monuments.
Although some parks and recreation areas that feature indoor spaces were closed in 2020, most outdoor parks remained open and some even waived entrance fees for part of the season. Those that remained open saw a surge in visitors and many were forced to limit access in order to prevent overcrowding. About 237 million people visited the country’s National Parks last year. Here are the most visited National Parks in 2020.
Now, as the National Park Service gears up for a record year, rangers ask that visitors consider using less popular trails, carry out their own trash if possible, and be ready for long wait times and crowded parking lots.