popular national parks

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Colonial National Historic Park from The Most Popular National Parks in America

The Most Popular National Parks in America

popular national parks

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These are the top parks in the country.

Encompassing some of the most incredible landscapes, there are 61 national parks in the United States operated by the National Park Service. These sites, protected by the government, are known for their natural beauty, and they attract millions of visitors each year.

They also offer vast amounts of outdoor recreation and rank among the top destinations for American campers. Recent statistics from the National Park Service show that some parks are a little more popular than others. These are the 20 most popular national parks in America.

Colonial National Historic Park

Colonial National Historic Park

Dreamstime

Located in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, Colonial National Historic Park is home to several important historical sites, ranging from the area where the first English settlers built their homes in Jamestown to the battlefields of Yorktown where the British were defeated in the Revolutionary War.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park

Dreamstime

Housing nearly a million acres of expansive wilderness dotted with glacier-capped mountains, beautiful rainforests and 70 miles of coastline, it’s no wonder Olympic National Park attracts millions of visitors yearly.

Boston National Historical Park

Boston National Historical Park

Dreamstime

Many of the sites throughout Boston National Historical Park tell the story of the events that led to the American Revolution. Established in 1974, the number of yearly visitors has grown into the millions.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Dreamstime

According to the National Park Service, “Acadia National Park protects the natural beauty of the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the United States.” Each year, the park’s towering peaks, inviting hiking trails, carriage roads and stone bridges attract more than 3 million spectators in Maine.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Dreamstime

The world’s first national park, Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. About 3.6 million people, on average, have visited this historic spot each year for the last decade.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Dreamstime

Protected since 1864, Yosemite in California is well known for its waterfalls. However, more than 4 million visitors have come to marvel at even more within the park’s expansive area, which stretches about 1,200 square miles and encompasses deep valleys, lush meadows and ancient sequoia trees

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Dreamstime

On average, 3.4 million people have marveled at the Rockies in Colorado each year for the last decade. Aside from the mountains, visitors take in the beauty of the park’s abundant wildflowers and wildlife from Trail Ridge Road (the highest paved road in the U.S.) and more than 350 miles of hiking trails.

San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

Dreamstime

The San Francisco Maritime National Park Association says the aim is to “(bring) our maritime heritage to life through education, preservation and philanthropy.” With nearly 4.5 million visitors recently, we’d say they’ve succeeded!

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Dreamstime

Nestled on 232 square miles of breathtaking Utah landscape, Zion National Park is a wonderland of remote terraces and narrow gorges. Steep red cliffs and more than 100 miles of wilderness trails attract more and more revelers every year. In fact, in the last decade the number of yearly visitors steadily climbed from about 2.6 million to 4.5 million.

Glen Canyon National Recreational Area

Glen Canyon National Recreational Area

Dreamstime

Glen Canyon houses the area around Lake Powell and lower Cataract Canyon in Utah and Arizona, covering 1,254,429 acres. Opportunities for hiking, boating, swimming, and fishing abound, attracting more and more people each year. In fact, numbers have more than doubled from the 1.9 million documented visitors in 2007.

Independence National Historical Park

Independence National Historical Park

Dreamstime

This incredible site in Philadelphia preserves several sites associated with the American Revolution and United States history. Independence National Historical Park has been dubbed “America's most historic square mile” because of the number of historic landmarks within its 55 acres. Because of its urban location, the park gets a lot of foot traffic throughout the year.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park

Dreamstime

The C&O Canal began as an early project to open up transportation into what was then the country's western frontier. It operated for nearly 100 years as a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and West Virginia. Today, it is the place where almost 5 million yearly visitors discover historical, natural, and recreational treasures.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Dreamstime

It’s no secret that the Grand Canyon is one of the most popular places in the country. And even though it’s not the national park with the most visitors, it’s probably the one you hear about the most. Perhaps it’s because this expansive natural wonder in Arizona is often considered one of the most astounding landscapes in the entire world.

Natchez Trace Parkway

Natchez Trace Parkway

Dreamstime

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile path through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Not only did more than 6 million people take to the parkway in recent years, but many of them enjoy more than the wonderful scenery, opting to hike, bike, go horseback riding and camp along the parkway.

George Washington Memorial Parkway

George Washington Memorial Parkway

Dreamstime

According to the National Park Service, the George Washington Memorial Parkway was designed for recreational driving. Traveling through Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, the 25-mile-long road “links sites that commemorate important episodes in American history.” On average, more than 7.5 million people find themselves tooling the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Dreamstime

Stretching across Nevada and Arizona, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is operated by the National Park Service and offers water recreation, including boating, fishing, and swimming on both lakes as well as the stretches of river between the lakes. That explains why an average of more than 7 million people flock here each year.

Gateway National Recreation Area

Gateway National Recreation Area

Dreamstime

When the National Park Service estimates that nearly 10 million visitors flood a particular spot each year, we take notice. Gateway National Recreation Area boasts more than 26,000 acres of recreational space in New York City and Monmouth County, N.J. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or a photography enthusiast, or simply looking for an intriguing vacation spot, surely you should be able to find some fun along with 7.6 million other yearly visitors!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Dreamstime

It’s no secret why more than 10 million people take in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains year after year. This UNESCO World Heritage Site straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, featuring breathtaking views and plenty of fun activities.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Dreamstime

Between 14 million and 15 million people take a trip to Golden Gate National Recreation Area every year, and it’s not just to see the Golden Gate Bridge for the sake of their bucket list. The park “supports 19 distinct ecosystems with over 2,000 plant and animal species,” according to the National Park Service. Talk about an experience!

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Dreamstime

The last recorded number of visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway came in at 16,093,765, giving the beautiful area a 10-year average of a whopping 15,049,331 admirers! The opportunities for outdoor activities are endless along this road, and the National Park Service calls it “America’s favorite drive,” making it one of the top roads you need to cruise down in your lifetime.

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