America’s best idea is more popular than ever before according to data released by National Park Service. The national parks, seashores, monuments and other sites under the supervision of the NPS drew a record number of visitors in 2014—an impressive 292.8 million people.
We took a look at the data and highlighted the most visited U.S. national parks of 2014. From Maine to Montana and beyond, these iconic parks are some of the best in the country—if not the world. Each popular for its own reasons, the top 10 parks represent the beauty and diversity of America. These parks should be on your list and there’s no better time to see them than during National Park Week.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 2,338,528
It takes a pretty spectacular park to draw in more than 2.3 million people a year and Glacier National Park doesn’t disappoint. Named for the glaciers that carved the steep rock faces and still remain in the park today, significantly smaller than they once were, the park is a wild preserve you have to see to believe. Lakes, waterfalls and wildflower meadows are made more beautiful by the mountainous backdrop and at times it seems as though everything is perfectly preserved as it once was.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 2,563,129
Bike rides on quaint carriage paths, kayaking the rugged natural coastline and hiking the tallest mountain on America’s Atlantic Coast—however you enjoy spending time outside Acadia National Park has a place for you to do it. The park with a little bit of everything hosted 2.5 million people last year, making it the ninth most visited in the country.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 2,791,392
Just 10 miles south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park has some major competition, but still manages to draw in nearly 2.8 million visitors a year. Named for the mountains that shoot out from the ground and reach high into the sky, the park offers visitors a look at wildlife, an incredible river for floating and more than 200 miles of hiking trails.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 3,189,696
When it comes to Zion National Park there’s a lot to love. Maybe it’s the striking pink and red rock formations, perhaps it’s the unique plant and animal life or it could be the world-class hikes that brought 3.1 million people to the park last year. Whatever it is that people love about Zion, it’s clear that something brings them back year after year.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 3,243,872
Olympic National Park offers visitors almost one million acres of unprecedented natural variety. In 2014, 3.2 million people were drawn to the snow-capped mountains, the sea stacks on the Pacific coast and temperate rainforest of this national park. Without roads to spoil the natural beauty, it’s a wonder so many people make the trip into the wilderness.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 3,434,751
Stunning vistas and native wildlife delight hikers of all skill levels at the fifth most visited national park in the country. Visitors look forward to brilliant wildflowers, camping under starry nights and catching a glimpse of elk, moose, bears, cougars, coyotes and more wildlife in Rocky Mountain National Park. With more than 300 miles of hiking trails fit for all skill levels (many are even kid-friendly), there’s nothing quite like seeing the Rockies on foot.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 3,513,484
The very first national park established in the world, Yellowstone was founded to preserve the magnificent geysers and other geothermal wonders abundant in the area. Today, the majority of the world’s geysers lie within park bounds, which is a big draw for visitors. In preserving the geothermal landscape, the government also managed to create a haven for threatened and endangered species. Yellowstone National Park is currently the only place in the continental U.S. where every species of large native mammal, including the last free-ranging bison herd, still survives. As John D. Giorgis, President Emeritus of the National Park Travelers Club said, “The scenery is world-class, and the wildlife viewing has no comparison anywhere else in North America.”
Number of Visitors in 2014: 3,882,642
The iconic Yosemite National Park is the third most visited national park in the U.S.—and for good reason. Breathtaking waterfalls, giant sequoias and the notoriously beautiful Yosemite Valley are just a few of the picturesque draws and with almost 95 percent of the park designated wilderness area, there’s plenty more natural beauty to see. Protecting Yosemite in 1890 was a key step for the national park system and the park remains a jewel today.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 4,756,771
It’s no surprise that the infamous Grand Canyon National Park once again made it to the top of the most visited list; the colossal canyon has beckoned people to its cutaway gorges for hundreds of years. From Native Americans who considered it a holy site to the masses of tourists that visit today to take in the grandeur, the Grand Canyon and it’s almost two billion years of geological history is a landmark whose importance is evident at first sight.
Number of Visitors in 2014: 10,099,276
This park has it all—more than 800 miles of hiking trails, world class diversity of animal and plant life and a rich history that dates back several centuries. While any of those would be a great reason to visit the 522,419-acre park, most people take in the view from the scenic highway that runs along the mountains. With 10,099,276 visitors in 2014, which is more than twice the number of the second most popular park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park tops the list of most visited again this year.