Top Ten Most Visited Parks in 2005

The National Park Service yesterday released their visitation reports for 2005. There is a lot of data contained in these reports. You could easily spends days comparing recreation statistics by region, state, park, and overnight stays, not to mention non-recreation visits to these same areas. So, I'll boil it down to the stat which is easiest to manage in the length of a blog post: popularity! Which places had the most visitation in 2005?

Top 10 Most Visited NPS Units
RankPark NameVisitation
1Blue Ridge PKWY17,882,567
2Golden Gate NRA13,602,629
3Great Smoky Mountains NP9,192,477
4Gateway NRA8,294,353
5Lake Mead NRA7,692,438
6George Washington MEM PKWY7,284,165
7Natchez Trace PKWY5,482,282
8Delaware Water Gap NRA5,052,264
9National World War II Memorial4,410,379
10Grand Canyon NP4,401,522

That list includes 3 parkways and 4 recreation areas. In my own experience, I've found that these are areas you would visit in your own backyard, places close to home. If your are interested in the places that are the top ten travel destinations within the Park Service, we could filter the numbers to show only visitation in areas designated as National Parks.

Top 10 Most Visited National Parks
RankPark NameVisitation
1Great Smoky Mountains NP9,192,477
2Grand Canyon NP4,401,522
3Yosemite NP3,304,144
4Olympic NP3,142,774
5Yellowstone NP2,835,651
6Rocky Mountain NP2,798,368
7Zion NP2,586,665
8Cuyahoga Valley NP2,533,827
9Grand Teton NP2,463,442
10Acadia NP2,051,484

Whenever I see a list of "top places", there is always a little piece of me which wonders about the other end of the list. And so, in part to satisfy my own curiosity, here are the National Park units that had the fewest visitors in 2005.

Bottom 10 : The Least Visited Park Units
RankPark NameVisitation
10Kobuk Valley NP5,037
9Cape Krusenstern NM4,664
8Thomas Stone NHS4,500
7Thaddeus Kosciuszko NMEM4,107
6Eugene O'Neill NHS3,652
5Alibates Flint Quarries NM2,919
4Frederick Law Olmsted NHS2,775
3Bering Land Bridge NPRES2,428
2Rio Grande W&SR319
1Aniakchak NM & PRES285

  • NHS - National Historic Site
  • NM - National Monument
  • NMEM - National Memorial
  • NP - National Park
  • NPRES - National Preserve
  • NRA - National Recreation Area
  • PKWY - Parkway
  • W&SR - Wild Scenic & Recreational River