National Park Visits Tops 318 Million in 2018

great smoky mountain national park
Photo: KOA Campgrounds

Visitation to America’s national parks in 2018 exceeded 300 million recreation visits for the fourth consecutive year. The 318.2 million recreation visits total is the third highest since record keeping began in 1904.

“America’s national parks are national treasures that tell the story of our nation and celebrate its beauty, history and culture,” said Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “I am pleased that so many Americans and visitors from around the world continue to take advantage of the affordable and accessible recreational opportunities provided by these sites.”

“The visitation to our national parks continues to affirm that Americans are in love with their public lands and hold dear the stories of our nation embodied in the natural, cultural and historic landscapes we protect in the National Park System,” National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith said.

The 418 national parks throughout the country provide a vast array of opportunities for recreation and inspiration for visitors of all ages. With at least one located in every state, national parks are easily accessible and affordable destinations. In the past five years there have been about 1.6 billion recreational visits to national parks.

In 2018, Golden Gate National Recreation Area reclaimed the top spot for highest visitation in the National Park System from the Blue Ridge Parkway. These two parks have been trading places at one and two since 1979. In the national parks category, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (11.4 million) and Grand Canyon National Park (6.4 million) continue to hold the top two spots, as they have since 1990.

For an in-depth look at 2018 visitation, including individual park figures, please visit the NPS Social Science web site.

By The Numbers around the National Park System

  • 318,211,833 recreation visits (385 of 418 parks report visitation figures)
  • 1,401,420,191 recreation visitor hours
  • 13,950,759 overnight stays
  • 28 parks set a new record for visitation (about 7% of reporting parks)
  • 17 parks broke a record they set in 2017
  • Three parks had over 10 million recreation visits – Blue Ridge Parkway, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Nine parks had over 5 million recreation visits
  • 77 parks had over 1 million recreation visits (about 20% of reporting parks)

Top 10 – All Parks in the National Park System

1.Golden Gate National Recreation Area – 15,223,697

2.Blue Ridge Parkway – 14,690,418

3.Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11,421,200

4.Gateway National Recreation Area – 9,243,305

5.Lincoln Memorial – 7,804,683

6.Lake Mead National Recreation Area – 7,578,958

7.George Washington Memorial Parkway – 7,288,623

8.Grand Canyon National Park – 6,380,495

9.Natchez Trace Parkway – 6,362,439

10.Vietnam Veterans Memorial – 4,719,148

Top 10 – National Parks

1.Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11,421,200

2.Grand Canyon National Park – 6,380,495

3.Rocky Mountain National Park – 4,590,493

4.Zion National Park – 4,320,033

5.Yellowstone National Park – 4,115,000

6.Yosemite National Park – 4,009,436

7.Acadia National Park – 3,537,575

8.Grand Teton National Park – 3,491,151

9.Olympic National Park – 3,104,455

10.Glacier National Park – 2,965,309