More than 282 million people visited America’s national parks in 2012, an increase of more than 3 million over 2011.

NPW_DENA_DiscoveryCamp_NPS-Nathan-Kostegian_520px_3It was the sixth highest annual visitation in the history of the National Park Service, despite nearly 2 million fewer visitors as a result of park closures caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Since 1916, the National Park System has recorded more than 12 billion visits.

There are familiar park names in the Top 10 lists.

Gateway National Recreation Area in New York lost nearly 1.2 million visitors from 2011 because of Hurricane Sandy yet still made the Top 10 list of most visited National Park Service sites.

Most Visited Places of the National Park System (2012)

1. Blue Ridge Parkway (15,205,059)

2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (14,540,338)

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (9,685,829)

4. George Washington Memorial Parkway (7,425,577)

5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area (6,285,439)

6. Lincoln Memorial (6,191,361)

7. Natchez Trace Parkway (5,560,668)

8. Gateway National Recreation Area (5,043,863)

9. Gulf Islands National Seashore (4,973,462)

10.  Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (4,970,802)

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping at Arches National Park, Utah. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Most Visited National Parks (2012)

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (9,685,829)

2. Grand Canyon National Park (4,421,352)

3. Yosemite National Park (3,853,404)

4. Yellowstone National Park (3,447,729)

5. Rocky Mountain National Park (3,229,617)

6. Zion National Park (2,973,607)

7. Olympic National Park (2,824,908)

8. Grand Teton National Park (2,705,256)

9. Acadia National Park (2,431,052)

10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (2,299,722)

National Park Week

Each spring the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, invite everyone to celebrate National Park Week.

This year, from April 20–28, YOU are invited to get to know your national parks.

All national park entrance fees will be waived from Monday, April 22 to Friday, April 26 to encourage citizens to enjoy unique outdoor experiences as part of the annual National Park Week.

Whether it is your first trip, or the latest of many memorable park experiences, there couldn’t be a better time to get out and explore.

All of America’s parks belong to YOU.

Take this opportunity to learn how you can take an active role in preserving these special places. Help pass along our country’s rich history and beautiful landscapes to the next generation.

Did you know…America’s national parks include more than:

  • 84 million acres of spectacular scenery, historic landmarks and cultural treasures
  • 17,000 miles of trails
  • 43,000 miles of shoreline
  • 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures
  • 100 million museum items
  • 12,000 campsites
  • 99 percent of counties in America have recreational facilities such as playgrounds and trails funded by the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund
Zion is home to 207 species of birds. Bird checklists are available at the visitor centers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion is home to 207 species of birds. Bird checklists are available at the visitor centers. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take part in an activity during National Park Week and hike, learn, share, and give back in the nation’s 401 national parks!

Also, don’t forget to check out www.nationalparkweek.org. There you can share your national park photos, videos, and tips. While you’re there, learn all about the ways you can help support your national parks all year round.

For information about RV parks and campgrounds near a national park, check out Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory.


National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics

National Park Service sites receive approximately 280 million visitors each year. Historic and current visitor use statistics are available for 374 of the nearly 400 units included in the National Park System. (Statistics are not available for some areas; for example, those with joint administration of federal and non-federal lands.)

Website: irma.nps.gov/Stats

National Park Service

Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, the park service is proud to safeguard these special places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year.

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

Website: nps.gov

Worth Pondering…

National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.

—Wallace Stegner, 1983

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