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According To The NPS These Were The Most Popular National Parks In 2023

Great Smoky Mountain National Park, USA
Most visited and least popular US National Parks for 2023 according to the NPS [Image by Auk Ari from Pixabay]
During and following the pandemic, the US National Parks became popular places to be for people across the USA. Getting out into the fresh air in beautiful nature made so much sense to people. Fast forward to 2023, and the national parks are still hugely popular with travelers. The National Parks Service has revealed which parks were the top 10 most and least popular in 2023.

Most popular parks according to National Parks Service (NPS)

The National Parks Service saw an amazing almost 325.5 million visits across the 400 national parks and monuments in 2023. The data covered everything from national parks to parkways and monuments. Meanwhile, these visits saw a 4 percent increase, or around 13 million visits, over 2022.

Visitor data reveals most popular National Parks according to the NPS

In 2023, the National Park Service (NPS) saw nearly 325.5 million visits across its 400 diverse sites. That includes everywhere from parkways to national parks to monuments. In total, it’s a 4 percent increase, or about 13 million visits, over 2022.

Of interest to note, while the famous national parks got the most attention, they only account for 28 percent of the total number of visits to NPS sites. To get an idea, the Blue Ridge Parkway gathered more visits at 16.75 million than any one of the national parks. Despite this, national parks are the main attraction from the NPS. Read on to find out which park came out at no. 1 according to the NPS data.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park at No. 1

Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the fall
Great Smoky Mountain National Park in the fall [Image by Simon from Pixabay]
The park at the top of the list is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with an amazing 13.29 million visits in 2023. Meanwhile, the park, pictured above and top, tends to be popular as it is within a one-day drive for half of the US population. Moreover, it is one of the few parks that doesn’t charge an entry fee, making it even more popular for those on a budget.

Located in North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is considered by the NPS to be the most biodiverse in the National Park system. Moreover, the park covers more than 800 square miles. Besides the mountains, its landscape includes lush forests and many wildflowers that bloom all year round.

Meanwhile, its hiking routes pass rivers, streams and waterfalls and are a segment of the popular Appalachian Trail. Visitors can get the best scenic views of the misty mountains from the observation tower at the top of Clingmans Dome.

Top 10 popular US National Parks

Grand Canyon, USA - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Grand Canyon National Park No. 2 for 2023 [Image by Michael Just from Pixabay]
Below is the full list of the top 10 US National Parks according to the NPS data along with the number of visits in 2023:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (13.29 million)
  2. Grand Canyon National Park (4.73 million)
  3. Zion National Park (4.62 million)
  4. Yellowstone National Park (4.50 million)
  5. Rocky Mountain National Park (4.11 million)
  6. Yosemite National Park (3.89 million)
  7. Acadia National Park (3.87 million)
  8. Grand Teton National Park (3.41 million)
  9. Joshua Tree National Park (3.27 million)
  10. Olympic National Park (2.94 million)

New additions to the most popular list for 2023 include Joshua Tree National Park and Olympic National Park. These two parks knocked off Cuyahoga Valley in Ohio and Glacier in Montana from the previous list.

Least popular US National Parks in 2023

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve
Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve [Image by Gidon Pico from Pixabay]
For those seeking peace away from the crowds, the following were the least popular national parks for 2023 according to the NPS, five of which are in Alaska.

  1. Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (11,045)
  2. National Park of American Samoa (12,135)
  3. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve (16,728)
  4. Kobuk Valley National Park (17,616)
  5. Isle Royale National Park (28,965)
  6. Katmai National Park and Preserve (​​33,763)
  7. North Cascades National Park (40,351)
  8. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve (78,305)
  9. Dry Tortugas National Park (84,285)
  10. Great Basin National Park (​​143,265)





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