Yellowstone experienced the biggest attendance jump of any national park in 2010, attracting 344,998 more recreational visitors than it drew in 2009, according to preliminary visitation statistics published by the National Park Service. (When viewing the NPS chart, switch the date from January 2011 to December 2010 to see year-end numbers.)
Yellowstone, the nation's oldest national park (1872), set a new annual attendance record for the second straight year, recording more than 3.6 million recreation visitors in 2010. The NPS defines "recreation visitors" as people who enter a park neither to work nor to commute to work.
Yellowstone attracted a record number of visitors for a single month in July with more than 957,000 visitors. A USA Today article reports that park officials attribute the rise in 2010 visitation an emphasis on domestic travel and stable gas prices. A related article from USA Today (with accompanying video) describes what makes Yellowstone appealing to visitors during winter.
The NPS administers 58 national parks in its collection of 394 properties, which range from the Statue of Liberty (a national monument with 3.8 million visitors in 2010) to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which tops all NPS-administered units with 14.5 million visitors.
The top 20 national parks are listed below. Rocky Mountain National Park climbed to No. 5 on the list. Grand Teton jumped to No. 7 from ninth in 2009. Acadia, with an increase of more than 276,000 visitors, rose to No. 9. Glacier saw the third-highest increase in visitation with more than 195,000 visitors during 2010, the park's centennial year. Final visitation figures, which will include all 394 NPS units, are due in late February.
Some parks count all visitors, recreational and nonrecreational, when they announce their annual visitation stats. For example, Yosemite recently announced that in 2010 the park exceeded 4 million visitors (4,047,880) for the first time since 1996 and Bryce Canyon touted a record visitation figure (1,782,333) for 2010. Both totals include recreational and nonrecreational figures. The charts below include only recreational visitors.
|Rank||Park||2010 visitors||2009 rank|
|1||Great Smoky Mountains||9,463,538||1|
|10||Cuyahoga Valley (Ohio)||2,483,640||8|
|13||Hot Springs (Ark.)||1,311,807||13|
2010 Visitor Count Flucuation in the Top 20
|Park||Compared to 2009|
|Rocky Mountain||up 133,495|
|Joshua Tree||up 130,505|
|Grand Teton||up 102,492|
|Hawaii Volcanoes||up 71,561|
|Bryce Canyon||up 69,113|
|Grand Canyon||up 40,317|
|Mount Rainier||up 40,100|
|Hot Springs||up 27,100|
|Great Smoky Mountains||down 27,899|
|Cuyahoga Valley||down 105,648|