Blog Post Jennifer Errick Feb 16, 2017

National Parks Witnessed Record-Breaking Visitation in 2016

The National Park Service releases new data showing more than 330 million visits during its centennial, up more than 7 percent from 2015

The National Park Service released its official visitation statistics for 2016 yesterday, logging a whopping 330,971,689 recreational visits during its centennial year, up significantly from what had been a record-breaking 307 million visits in 2015. The numbers continue an upward trend in national park tourism and represent a 7.7 percent increase over 2015.

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Many individual parks also saw their highest visitation ever in 2016, including Yellowstone, which witnessed more than 4.2 million visits, Yosemite, which recorded more than 5 million visits for the first time, Grand Canyon, which had just shy of 6 million visits, and Great Smoky Mountains, which surpassed 11 million visits for the first time.

The following two lists rank the top 10 most-visited national park sites in the country in 2016. The first list shows the most-visited sites across all of the more than 400 properties managed by the National Park Service. The second list shows the most-visited of the 59 sites designated as national parks (versus national monuments, national historic sites, national recreation areas and other designations).

Curious how these visits are measured? It involves a massive collection of data from numerous sources with methodologies that vary. Learn more about some of the complicated math involved in these statistics.

10 most-visited sites in the National Park System, all designations

Park NameVisits in 2016
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California15,638,777
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia15,175,578
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee11,312,786
George Washington Memorial Parkway, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia10,323,339
Gateway National Recreation Area, New Jersey and New York8,651,770
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.7,915,934
Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona and Nevada7,175,891
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona5,969,811
Natchez Trace Parkway, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee5,891,315
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C.5,299,713

10 most-visited national parks

Park NameVisits in 2016
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee11,312,786
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona5,969,811
Yosemite National Park, California5,028,868
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado4,517,585
Zion National Park, Utah4,295,127
Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming4,257,177
Olympic National Park, Washington3,390,221
Acadia National Park, Maine3,303,393
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming3,270,076
Glacier National Park, Montana2,946,681

About the author

  • Jennifer Errick Managing Editor of Online Communications

    Jennifer co-produces NPCA's podcast, The Secret Lives of Parks, and writes and edits a wide variety of online content. She has won multiple awards for her audio storytelling.