Ranking The National Parks By Visitation In 2011

People seem to like numbers, and hierarchy, so here's a rundown of the leading units of the National Park System in terms of 2011 visitation. The first list combs through all 397 units in the system, while the second looks only at National Park-designated units of the National Park System.

10 Most-Visited Units Of the National Park System in 2011

  • Blue Ridge Parkway.....................................15,382,447
  • Golden Gate NRA.........................................14,567,487
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park.................9,008,830
  • Gateway NRA...............................................7,697,727
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway................7,417,397
  • Lake Mead NRA.............................................6,396,682
  • Lincoln Memorial...........................................5,971,220
  • Natchez Trace Parkway...................................5,765,343
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore...........................5,501,872
  • Delaware Water Gap NRA.................................4,986,700

10 Most-Visited National Parks in 2011

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park...............9,008,830
  • Grand Canyon National Park...........................4,298,178
  • Yosemite National Park.................................3,951,393
  • Yellowstone National Park..............................3,394,326
  • Rocky Mountain National Park.........................3,176,941
  • Olympic National Park...................................2,966,502
  • Zion National Park........................................2,825,505
  • Grand Teton National Park..............................2,587,437
  • Acadia National Park.....................................2,374,645
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park.........................2,161,185

Comments

Where is Mt. Rushmore on the list. I know we are a "Memorial" not a park but we have around 3 million visitors a year!!!!

Sorry Big Daddy, according to NPS stats, Rushmore counted 2.081 million in 2011, good for 37th in the system...

Where could we see the complete listing of ranking of all the National Parks, sites,NRRA's etc?

Debby, go to http://www.nature.nps.gov/stats/, click on "Reports," then select "ranking report," then select the year you want.

Wow. Hard to believe GSMNP has more than twice the second place visitors. Our parks ROCK!

The Smoky Mountains are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Not surprised that it is amongst the top. It is definitely God's Country.

And the parks are very sadly being loved to death. Congress doesn't seem to care.

I'm not surprised that Great Smoky Mountains is at the top, given two things -- its proximity to major population centers and the fact that it does not charge an entrance fee.
Yosemite suffers from the same first problem -- especially since 90% of those visitors are crammed into Yosemite Valley.

Can we petition Great Smoky Mountains National Park to come up with some other method for measuring visitation than by simply counting all the cars travelling on US 441? It would be nice to have visitation statistics that are a bit more comparable across the different Parks!

Here is a Mom and Pops National Parks page: http://www.pleacher.com/np/ and it ranks the visitors to the 58 National Parks at http://www.pleacher.com/np/visits/visitors.html

It also ranks all 367 NPS Units** and has lists of the National Memorials, National Monuments, etc.

** There are 397 units in the National Park System. rlj

Well since 3 million is less than all the number totals on the list I would hazard a guess and say...you are not on the list becuase you "only had 3 million visitors"...duh

I really wish the GSMNP would start charging a day use fee or annual pass, I don't think being the most visited park at more than twice the second most visited park is the kind of statistic to be proud of...I think if they started charging fees maybe that would cut down on the idiots who have no respect for the park or it's wildlife. I would have no problem buying an annual pass especially if it means it'd weed out some of the overcrowding.

This is such a great list! I know Central park is not a national park, but where would it rank among these guys?

The Great Smoky Mountains may be God's Country, but as we say in the Sierra Nevada of California, which includes Yosemite, Sequoia-Kings and a number of heavily used National Forests, "this is where he comes for vacation!" I would love to see the Great Smoky someday, I've been close but haven't seen them yet. We have the best public land system in the world and that fact is not disputed internationally. Our public lands are largely responsible for the trade surplus we have in tourism. The best characteristic of our public land system is its diversity, from the Gates of the Artic to the Everglades and from the Tongass National Forest to the Tonto National Forest and everything in between it is all really God's country. I'm troubled by the long term consequences of recreational over use, uncontrolled use and a lack of agency's ability to manage basic resources such as water and soil. The National Park Service had about 10,000 employees and the Forest Service about 28,000 when I started my career in the field in the mid 70's. Now the NPS has about 21,000 and the Forest Service 35,000, but when compared to the increase in the land area of the park system and the increases in use on National Parks and National Forests this employee increase pales in comparison. Let's not forget the BLM and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in this too. They have some fantastic lands and resources.