Lonely Planet Writer

See the incredible beauty of the top 10 most visited national parks in the US

With incredible diversity and a near-endless supply of things to see and do, US national parks continue to pull in record numbers of visitors from within the country and around the world. Last year, the national parks system once again broke its record for the highest number of visits, for the third year in a row. There were 331 million recreational visits to parks in 2016, up 23.7 million visitors from 2015.

But naturally, not all parks manage to draw the same numbers of eager travellers. So according to the US Department of the Interior, these are the top 10 most visited national parks, by visitation numbers.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Tennessee  – 11,312,786

Sunset at the Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Sunset at the Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains. Image by ©Sean Pavone/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona – 5,969,811

Grand Canyon National Park.
Grand Canyon National Park. Image by ©Stephen Yelverton Photography/Getty Images

Yosemite National Park, California – 5,028,868

Sunset at Valley View, Yosemite National Park.
Sunset at Valley View, Yosemite National Park. Image by ©Nae Chantaravisoot/500px

Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Colorado – 4,517,585

Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Image by ©Carl Finocchiaro/500px

Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah – 4,295,127

Sunset in Zion National Park, Utah.
Sunset in Zion National Park, Utah. Image by ©Benjamin Schaefer/500px

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming – 4,257,177

Grand Prismatic Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.
Grand Prismatic Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Image by kwiktor/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Olympic National Park, Port Angeles, Washington – 3,390,221

USA, Washington, Olympic National Park.
USA, Washington, Olympic National Park. Image by ©James Randklev/Getty Images

Acadia National Park, Bay Harbor, Maine – 3,303,393

Bass Harbor Lighthouse at sunset, in Acadia National Park, Maine
Bass Harbor Lighthouse at sunset, in Acadia National Park, Maine Image by ©AppalachianViews/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Grand Teton National Park, Moose, Wyoming – 3,270,076

Bull moose at Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming, USA.
Bull moose at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, USA. Image by ©Chase Dekker/500px

Glacier National Park, West Glacier, Montana – 2,946,681

Glacier National Park mountain and lake landscape.
Glacier National Park mountain and lake landscape. Image by ©ramesh iyanswamy/500px

When it comes to all parks within the national park system as a whole – which includes national monuments and recreation areas – the most visited sites are: Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California; Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina; Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee; George Washington Memorial Parkway, Virginia; Gateway National Recreation Area, New York; Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC; Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada; Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Natchez Trace Parkway; Mississippi; and Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, Washington DC.

Half of all visits to national parks were in just 26 of the hundreds of parks around the country. But the National Parks Service notes that visitation grew more than 10% in parks that see “more modest” annual visitation. Eighty parks around the country had more than one million visits.

Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.