Top Six Most-Visited National Parks

Every year millions of people make a visit to one of the many beautiful national parks located throughout the United States. With so much natural beauty along with the endless supply of wildlife, one can’t help but be glad that such parks exist for all to enjoy. With a total of 27 states having national parks, there is bound to be something new and different for all visitors to enjoy.

2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, a federal program designed to protect diverse sites which showcase the United States’ unique natural and cultural heritage. With so much beauty among all of the national parks, it can seem difficult to choose just one to visit. So what we have for you today, in Celebration of National Park Week, is a list of the six most visited national parks in 2016, to help you with your decision.

6) Yellowstone National Park

Number of Visitors: 4,257,177

It goes without saying why Yellowstone National Park became the very first federally recognized park. Both the abundant wildlife and geothermal landmarks make it a “go to” park for recreation. From the minute you enter the park you are welcomed by the many elk and caribou grazing along the road. With many ecosystems located throughout the park, you are bound to come into contact with at least one of them. Being the United States’ largest megafauna says a lot. But having the largest megafauna is not all Yellowstone has. It also houses the nation’s largest Bison herd. Comprising over 1,000 Bison, it has been known to make traffic come to a standstill in the park. If you have the chance to drive through it, do it, it is truly a spectacular site to see.

5) Zion National Park

Number of Visitors: 4,295,127

Rising in Utah’s high plateau country, the Virgin River carves its way through Zion Canyon to the desert below. The 229-square mile Zion National Park is located near Springdale, Utah and its most famous feature is 15 miles long and up to a half mile deep. Zion Canyon is cut deep through reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone. Zion is the most visited of Utah’s five famous National Parks; Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. The park’s striking vertical topography—rock towers, sandstone canyons, and sharp cliffs—attracted 4.2 million visitors in 2016.

4) Rocky Mountain National Park

Number of Visitors: 4,517,585

With its 3,000+ miles of terrain, the Rocky Mountain National Park stretches between British Columbia, Canada all the way to New Mexico. It is estimated that the Rockies formed around 80 million years ago. Today, both glacial and water erosion continue to form and shape them into the many majestic peaks and valleys we now see. It wasn’t until the last ice age that the Rocky Mountains became inhabited.

With so much splendor throughout the Rocky Mountains, it is no wonder why it was made into a national park. With its many forests, it is truly a popular destination for all visitors. Some of the available activities for you to enjoy include camping, hunting, fishing and watching the beautiful sunrise and sunsets over the peaks.

3) Yosemite National Park

Number of Visitors: 5,028,868

With its countless amount of granite cliffs, Yosemite is as biologically diverse as it is gonna get. Designated wilderness makes up over 90% of Yosemite. This makes the park the largest unfragmented habitat throughout the Sierra Nevada. Yosemite also supports the upper montane, lower montane, alpine, subalpine, and chaparral/oak woodland vegetation zones. Besides that, Yosemite also plays host to their magnificent granite formations which help to create their majestic waterfalls. Yosemite National Park is a continuous work of art as the steep streams and many rivers continue to carve the canyons.

2) Grand Canyon National Park

Number of Visitors: 5,969,811

If you have ever experienced a road trip from California to Arizona, then you know that making a stop at the Grand Canyon should be on your list of priorities. With the majestic beauty formed by the Colorado River, it is no wonder why and how it became one of the world’s natural wonders. Close to 2 billion years worth of Earth’s history has been uncovered by the Colorado River, along with tributaries that made their way through the layers.

As you make your way down Arizona State Route 64, you’ll come to the park’s South Entrance in Tusayan, Arizona. It’s surprising that it took the U.S Congress over 30 years to establish it as a national park since it is so famously known. The Grand Canyon will surely be enjoyed for many future generations.

1) Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Number of Visitors: 11,312,786

The unbelievable Smoky Mountains National Park is a United States National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains. The Smoky Mountains make up a bit of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the greater Appalachian Mountains. It totals 814 square miles, making it one of the greatest national parks in the eastern United States.

With over 10 million annual guests, the Smoky Mountains has become the number one travel destination if you compare it to other similar parks. However its proximity to population centers is a large contributing factor to the amount of traffic the Smokies see annually. The most visited landmark of the Smoky Mountains is Cades Cove, a valley with different spared outstanding structures which include sanctuaries, horse safe houses, and log cabins.

National Park Week is April 20-28, 2019!

Philip Van der Vossen

Philip Van der Vossen founded and hosts the Trail Trek Tour, a traveling series of off-road events for automotive media. In 2020 he launched the off-road travel site,, as the content focused side of TrailTrekTour LLC. Philip has been an online publisher since 2008, and has covered the automotive industry since 2010. Prior to founding Trail Trek Tour, he served for three years as the Rally Director for the Washington Automotive Press Association.

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