Americans Attending National Parks At Much Higher Rate

With an aggregate gain of over 4% in 2023, America’s national parks saw a considerable surge in popularity. As more individuals seek solace and adventure in our nation’s parks’ expansive wilderness and breathtaking beauty, this increase signals a growing trend toward outdoor recreation. Perhaps it’s a natural response to being locked in during the pandemic.

Among the most popular national parks, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (in both North Carolina and Tennessee) is also seeing a surge in visitors. The yearly visitor count increased from 12,937,633 in 2022 to 13,297,647 in 2023.

Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park is situated on Lake Superior and had 28,965 visitors in 2023, up from 25,454 the previous year. The Park offers wilderness hiking, canoeing, and wildlife viewing—especially of the park’s renowned moose and wolf populations.

The number of visitors to Yellowstone National Park in 2023 increased from 3,290,242 in 2022 to 4,501,382. The park is famous for its rich animals and distinctive geothermal features.

Also seeing a significant increase is Yosemite National Park, another Western jewel famous for its ancient sequoias and high cliffs. It welcomed 3,897,070 people in 2023, up from 3,667,550 the previous year.

Acadia National Park in Maine saw a slight visitor decline, perhaps impacted by regional travel trends or environmental factors like harsher winter temperatures. However, Acadia is still one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Northeast, thanks to its stunning scenery, plenty of outdoor activities, varied wildlife, and rough shoreline.

Seasonal visitors to these national treasures can use the National Park Service’s “America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass,” which provides unlimited access to over 2,000 federal recreation areas.

There are six days a year when anyone can visit any of the more than 400 national parks in the country without paying a dime.