Each year millions of people visit our nation's best idea, our national parks. Here is a look at the 10 most visited national parks in the United States and why they are so popular.
Honorable Mention: Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California was the 11th most visited national park in 2016. 2,505,286 people visited the park last year to enjoy the diverse landscape were the Mojave and Colorado ecosystems collide. Joshua Tree is a short drive from both San Diego and Los Angeles, making it an ideal spot for people looking to escape the city life. The park features a wide array of flora and wildlife and some of the darkest skies in the Lower 48. Explore trails in Joshua Tree.
Number 10: Glacier National Park. 2,946,681 people visited the “Crown of the Continent” in 2016. The park is located in Northern Montana and is famous for it soaring peaks, glaciers, diverse wildflowers and wildlife, including grizzly bears, mountain goats and gray wolves. The “Going to the Sun” road traverses the park and is widely considered an engineering marvel. The park feature many opportunities for outdoor recreation including, hiking for all ages and abilities, backpacking, camping, fishing and much more.
Number 9: Grand Teton National Park. 3,270,076 people visited the amazingly beautiful park in Northwest Wyoming. Standing on the valley floor and staring up at the rugged peaks is a truly incredible experience. Outdoor recreation opportunities are abundant in the tetons. There are hundreds of miles trails weaving through the park. Lucky visitors may see moose, grizzly bears, elk and maybe even wolves.
Number 8: Acadia National Park. 3,303,393 people visited Maine’s Acadia National Park. The park was the first eastern national park and for more than 100 years has inspired awe with its incredible beauty, diverse landscape and history. The park is home to an array of wildlife including black bears and also includes the tallest mountain on the Atlantic Coast. Visitors can bike historic carriage roads, relax along the ocean or hike any number of trails in Acadia National Park. PC: https://goo.gl/3w4wx1
Number 7: Olympic National Park. 3,390,221 people visited Washington state’s Olympic National Park in 2016. Olympic literally has something for every adventurer. The park has 3 distinct ecosystems, glacier-covered mountains, old-growth douglas fir and western hemlock rainforests and more than 70 miles of ocean coastline. The stark in ecosystems a large variety of wildlife. Whales, sea lions and sea otters line the ocean. While the rainforest and mountains are home to large variety of wildlife, such as black bears, bobcats, mountain lions, various birds of prey and the endemic olympic marmot.
Number 6: Yellowstone National Park. 4,257,177 people visited our Nation’s first national park in 2016. Yellowstone is truly one of a kind. The park features incredible scenery, such as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs and of course Old Faithful. Wildlife also attracts many visitors. Bison, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, elk, mule deer, birds of prey and many other species of mammals and birds call Yellowstone home. Here is a Yellowstone National Park visitor guide.
Number 5: Zion National Park. 4,295,127 people visited Utah’s first national park. Zion hiking trails lead visitors to breathtaking views and there are hikes for all ages and abilities. As you explore keep an eye out for Zion’s diverse wildlife. Mule deer are common. Birders also flock to Zion, some highlights include a wide variety of birds of prey including raptors, such as cooper’s hawks, red-tailed hawks and american kestrels. But the bucket-lister for every bird watcher is the endangered California Condor.
Number 4: Rocky Mountain National Park. 4,517,585 people visited Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. The large number of people is not surprising given it’s a relatively short drive to Denver. The park protects an amazing mountain environment that is dotted with breathtaking alpine lakes and criss-crossed with more than 300 miles of trails. Along the trails hikers can expect to see bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer and an abundance of other small mammals, such as yellow-bellied marmots and pikas.
Number 3: Yosemite National Park. 5,028,868 people visited California’s classic: Yosemite National Park. One visit to Yosemite Valley and visitors understand why John Muir wrote “the mountains are calling and I must go.” For more than 150 years Yosemite’s towering granite walls, incredible waterfalls, wildflower-saturated meadows, ancient giant sequoias groves and unparalleled wilderness have inspired visitors. Today Yosemite has something for all ages and abilities. Yosemite hiking trails are perfect for everyone from seasoned backpackers to visitors needing wheelchair accessible hikes.
Number 2: Grand Canyon National Park. 5,969,811 people visited Arizona’s Grand Canyon N.P. The large number of people is not surprising given it is within driving distance of Tucson, Phoenix and Las Vegas. The first time people see the Grand Canyon, many are at a loss for words and left awestruck by its incredible beauty. The canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep. Visitors can hike a wide variety of trails that are perfect for hikers of all ages. Keep an eye peeled for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep and the endangered California condor. PC: https://goo.gl/mcZmcz
Number 1: Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 11,312,786 people visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2016, making it the most visited park. Seemingly endless hazy and hardwood-covered ridges straddle NC and TN. Over 1,600 species of flowering plants live in the park. Another symbol of the park is black bears. Other common wildlife spotted by visitors includes white-tailed deer, eastern gray squirrels, eastern chipmunks and wild turkeys. Hiking Trails in Great Smoky Mountains. PC: https://goo.gl/HPCsNm