On Wednesday, the National Park Service (NPS) released their visitation numbers for 2017. While they fell short of the record-setting total visitors to National Park Areas that was set in 2016, they were only some 89,000 visitors shy of that mark (2017 saw 330,882,751 visitors compared to 330,971,689 visitors in 2016).
"Our national parks are being loved to death,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in the press release.
“As visitor rates continue at a high level, we must prioritize much-needed deferred maintenance including aging facilities, roads and other critical infrastructure.”
It is true that increasing visitation numbers and a growing backlog of maintenance necessities are sending the NPS scrambling to come up with ways to combat the issues. Peak season park fees and a reservation system are two ideas that have been floating around, but with no decisions yet being made on either.
The NPS 2017 visitation numbers are chock-full of some interesting facts. Like how 61 of the 385 reporting parks set new visitation records (about 16 percent of reporting parks). Or how 42 parks broke a record they set in 2016. Or even the fact that half of national park visitation occurred in just 27 parks in 2017.
Without further adieu, here are the 10 most popular national parks from 2017. However, visit them at your own risk, as considering checking out the least visited parks might offer more peaceful experience.
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 11,388,893 visitors
2. Grand Canyon National Park: 6,254,238 visitors
3. Zion National Park: 4,504,812 visitors
4. Rocky Mountain National Park: 4,437,215 visitors
5. Yosemite National Park: 4,336,890 visitors
6. Yellowstone National Park: 4,116,524 visitors
7. Acadia National Park: 3,509,271 visitors
8. Olympic National Park: 3,401,996 visitors
9. Grand Teton National Park: 3,317,000 visitors
10. Glacier National Park: 3,305,512 visitors
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