Top 5 Most Visited US National Parks 2023

Most people know  Ulysses Grant as a famous Civil War general, but in 1872, he signed a bill creating the first-ever national park, Yellowstone.

Did you know:

  • The US has 63 protected areas known as national parks.
  • The National Park Service was created in 1969 to conserve the scenery and provide for enjoyment of these parks.
  • 30 states have national parks in them.
  • California has the most with 9 national parks, followed by Alaska with 8.

How many of these parks have you seen?

Grand Teton National Park

With some of the most dramatic scenery in the country, Grand Teton National Park rises 6,000 feet high in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Its majestic mountains are spectacular, whether that be in the green of summer or snow capped in winter.

Schwabacher Landing on the Snake River sports bison, antelope, elk, moose, beavers and otters. You and your family can enjoy all types of outdoor activities, from sailing on the water to skiing, and, of course, to hiking. There aren’t too many more beautiful places in the Jackson area.

Fun Facts

  • The Grand Teton peak was created by earthquakes that struck the region with its six glacial lakes.
  • You can find the smallest bird in North America here, the Calliope Hummingbird.
  • The park is the only national park in the States to have its own airport, the Jackson Hole Airport.
  • The fastest mammal on land in the Western Hemisphere, the North American Pronghorn, is native here.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Majestic mountains, wildflowers, incredible wildlife and over 350 miles of trails make Rocky Mountain National Park one of the most visited parks in the U.S.

With over 100 peaks rising above 11,000 feet, including Longs Peak at 14,259 feet high, the park provides some of the highest national park lands in the U.S. As part of the continental divide, many of the vistas are accessible by horseback, the trail ridge road, and hiking.

Less than two hours outside of Denver, the park is a must-see for those visiting Colorado.

Fun Facts

  • The park features the country’s highest continuous paved road, Trail Ridge Road, reaching its highest point at 12,183 ft.
  • Bighorn sheep are the symbol of the park and are the largest wild sheep species.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park’s territory was acquired during the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Zion National Park

Named after the Old Testament city of Jerusalem, one can see how the natural beauty of Zion is heavenly. The canyon walls, reddish and tan colored Navajo sandstone, have been eroded over the years by the Virgin River. Featured in a number of films, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the park is easy to navigate with scenic beauty not far from most paths.

Its geological wonders with steep serpentine canyon walls alone should qualify this for anyone’s bucket list.

Fun Facts

  • The word “Zion” comes from ancient Hebrew, meaning sanctuary or refuge.
  • Zion National Park is home to an ancient civilization, the Anasazi.
  • One of the longest natural standing arches, the Kolob Arch, is located in the park.
  • The Angels Landing hiking trail in Zion National Park is one of the scariest hikes in the US. The last 0.5 mile is only a few feet wide, thinner than a sidewalk, and exposed to high cliffs.
  • The largest flying bird in North America, the California Condor, can be found here.

Yellowstone National Park

The second most visited park in the U.S. is Yellowstone, and it may be the most famous. Old Faithful, which erupts every 90 minutes with steam rising as high as 185 feet, is just one of its many attractions.

Largely in Wyoming but extending into Montana and Idaho, it’s the very definition of a national park with canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. What else is there? Big bison, like really big bison. Grizzly bears, angry grizzly bears. Wolves. 300 thermal features. 200 waterfalls. Do we need to  say more?

Fun Facts

  • There is an active volcano in the park, the Yellowstone Caldera, but it has not erupted for more than 640,000 years.
  • There are approximately 1,000-3,000 earthquakes annually.
  • The park is home to the oldest and largest bison herd in the US.
  • The third largest hot spring in the world, the Grand Prismatic Spring, is located here.
  • “Bison jams” are common as people have to wait for herds of bison to cross the road.

Great Smoky Mountains

The #1 most visited park in the United States is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. And not by just a little. Over 12 million visitors enjoyed the Park in 2020, which is nearly three times as many as, number two, Yellowstone.

On the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian Trail passes through the center of the Park as it makes its way from Georgia to Maine.

With nearly 500,000 acres hosting cascading waterfalls, roaming wildlife, the best way to enjoy the Park is to experience it like original settlers and explorers did, walking the Appalachian Trail. If you’re looking for a great family bonding experience, nothing beats the number one Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Fun Facts

  • It is nicknamed “the Smokies” due to the daily morning fog.
  • More than 10,000 species of plants and animals are known to live in the park, and estimates as high as an additional 90,000 undocumented species may also be present.
  • The park holds several festivals throughout the year, including Music of the Mountains, Festival of Christmas Past, and Old Timers Day.
  • Logging was once a major industry in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • Parts of Disney’s hit 1950s TV series, “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” was filmed inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Honorable mentions:

  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park
  • Acadia National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park

Source: nps.gov/aboutus/visitation-numbers.htm

What National Park do you enjoy the most?


  1. Have been able to visit Yellowstone twice. It’s an amazing place! The bison, the elk, the hot springs and the geysers are amazing! I love the mountains! 🏔

  2. I grew up going to the Great Smokey Mountains. So beautiful! I’ve made it to Yosemite so I need to add these other 4 to my wish list! ⛰️🥾

What do you THINK?

%d bloggers like this: