It’s no secret that national parks have been wildly popular in recent years. And that trend shows no sign of slowing down, either, according to newly released 2022 visitation statistics from the National Park Service.
Last year, the park service logged an impressive 312 million total recreation visits, which represents a 5% uptick from 2021. That brings the total number of visits to national parks since 1904 to a whopping 15.7 billion.
Digging down even deeper into the data, the park service’s statisticians noticed some subtle shifts in where travelers are choosing to adventure. For example, the group of roughly 330 least-visited parks saw a 4.6% increase in visitation from 2021 to 2022. The eight most-visited parks, meanwhile, only saw a 1.2% increase.
Some of that is a result of the park service’s efforts to limit crowds and long lines by implementing reservation systems, as well as encouraging travelers to visit less-popular parks or venture out during the off-season.
“Many parks with record visitation in 2022 are on what we would call ‘the road less traveled,'” says Chuck Sams, the National Park Service director, in a statement. “The subtle shift in park visitation is good for visitors, good for protecting parks and good for local communities whose economies benefit from tourism dollars.”
Some other fun facts from the 2022 data:
- 75 national parks logged more than 1 million visits
- Nine national parks logged more than 5 million visits
- Three national parks logged more than 10 million visits
But where are people going, exactly? Here’s how the list of the top 10 most-visited parks for 2022 shakes out.
Top 10 Most-Visited National Parks of 2022
10. Glacier National Park: 2.908 million visits
9. Cuyahoga Valley National Park: 2.913 million visits
8. Joshua Tree National Park: 3.06 million visits
7. Yellowstone National Park: 3.29 million visits
6. Yosemite National Park: 3.67 million visits
5. Acadia National Park: 3.97 million visits
4. Rocky Mountain National Park: 4.30 million visits
3. Zion National Park: 4.69 million visits
2. Grand Canyon National Park: 4.73 million visits
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 12.94 million visits
Top 10 Least-Visited National Parks of 2022
If you’re hoping to get way, way off the beaten path so you can really ditch the crowds, you may be wondering which national parks saw the least visitors last year. Here’s the breakdown.
10. Great Basin National Park: 142,115 visits
9. Dry Tortugas National Park: 78,488 visits
8. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve: 65,236 visits
7. Katmai National Park & Preserve: 33,908 visits
6. North Cascades National Park: 30,154 visits
5. Isle Royale National Park: 25,454 visits
4. Lake Clark National Park & Preserve: 18,187 visits
3. Kobuk Valley National Park: 16,925 visits
2. Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve: 9,457 visits
1. National Park of American Samoa: 1,887 visits
Which national park is your favorite?