Blog Post Jennifer Errick Apr 3, 2013

Park Service Releases Most-Visited National Park Data for 2012

Today, the National Park Service released its annual numbers on the most-visited sites throughout the park system in 2012. Though there aren't many surprises in this year's lists, it's always interesting to see some of the most popular parks in the country and how these numbers compare to previous years.

According to the agency’s press release, more than 282 million people visited our national parks last year, the sixth-highest year on record, and an increase of more than three million visitors from 2011.

The first list shows the most-visited places in all 401 units of the park system. The second list shows the most popular sites of only the 59 places officially designated as “national parks” (versus national monuments, national historic sites, national recreation areas, and other designations).

Most Visited Places of the National Park System

Park Site Number of Visitors
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


Most Visited National Parks

Park Site Number of Visitors
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


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.