There are 59 National Parks in the United States. That’s a lot of opportunities for people to get outside and get in touch with the great outdoors. Many of these parks offer once-in-a-lifetime sights and experiences like waterfalls, winding hikes, and giant sand dunes. So, which is the most popular of the American National Parks? The answer may surprise you. When most people think of National Parks, they likely think of someplace like Yosemite or Yellowstone, but the top spot actually goes to The Blue Ridge Parkway, with more than 16 million visits last year.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile-long stretch of highway that takes visitors on an epic road trip through the Appalachian Highlands. It offers up some of the most beautiful scenery in the country and believe us when we say it’s totally worth the miles you put on the old family truckster.
The National Park Service releases its visitation figures every year, and in 2017 the Blue Ridge Parkway eked out the top spot, bumping the 2016 top pick, California’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area, to the number 2 spot. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area came in at 15 million visitors, and it offers plenty of great scenic experiences as well. In fact, this San Francisco Bay Area destination has 19 different ecosystems to explore, so you may want to plan for a few days of exploring if you visit.
The third place spot went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with 11.4 million visitors.
When you add all of that up, the top 3 spots accounted for 42 of the total 331 million visits across all of the national parks throughout the country. That’s pretty impressive. If you’re planning a tour of the United States’ national parks, these three should definitely be on your list, but there are plenty of other notable stops on the top ten list. The Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C. both made the top ten list, with 7.9 million and 5 million visitors, respectively. The Grand Canyon National Park was also on the list, with 6.2 million visitors, and that should be an absolute MUST for any road trip across the American West.