The Most Popular National Parks of 2012

Visitation data from the National Park Service reveals some surprises

A hiker explores Zion National Park

This week the National Park Service released its annual numbers on park visitation, revealing the most popular areas of 2012. Although there weren’t any surprises on the top 10, the statistics did reveal some positive trends. The number of visitors was up by 3 million from 2011, making 2012 the sixth highest year on record for visitation.

The Most Visited National Parks in the United States

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (9,685,829)
2. Grand Canyon National Park (4,421,352)
3. Yosemite National Park (3,853,404)
4. Yellowstone National Park (3,447,729)
5. Rocky Mountain National Park (3,229,617)
6. Zion National Park (2,973,607)
7. Olympic National Park (2,824,908)
8. Grand Teton National Park (2,705,256)
9. Acadia National Park (2,431,052)
10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (2,299,722)

The numbers also revealed the most visited places within the national park system. 

1. Blue Ridge Parkway (15,205,059)
2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (14,540,338)
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (9,685,829)
4. George Washington Memorial Parkway (7,425,577)
5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area (6,285,439)
6. Lincoln Memorial (6,191,361)
7. Natchez Trace Parkway (5,560,668)
8. Gateway National Recreation Area (5,043,863)
9. Gulf Islands National Seashore (4,973,462)
10. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (4,970,802)

To learn more about each of these spots, visit the National Park Service website and check out our slideshows on where to see wild animals and the best spring hikes.

Via Gadling and the National Parks Conservation Association.