Screen Name Required

A screen name is required for sharing content on REI. Click here to create a screen name before continuing.

Set screen name

National Park Visitation Up 3.8 Million in 2012; First Free-Entry Days of 2013 Arrive April 22-26

Bargain hunters, take note: National Park Week, when national park entrance fees are waived April 22-26, is on the horizon.

So if you've got the time, what park might you visit next week? Here are some fun facts to know and tell about park visitation patterns in 2012:

Total recreation visits to the 398 units administered in 2012 by the National Park Service: 282,765,682, an increase of 3,826,426, or 1.37%, over 2011 visitation (despite the impact of Hurricane Sandy).

grand-canyon-after-rain-512

Grand Canyon, No. 2 in visitation in 2012, following a rain shower. (NPS photo)

• The annual total is the sixth highest in NPS records that date back to 1904. The record total was set in 1987: 287,244,998.

• Among the country's 58 national parks, the order of the top 5 parks—Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain—has remained unchanged since 2010. Olympic, No. 7 this year, was No. 5 in 2009.

• Annual national park visitation first surpassed 1 million in 1920, 5 million in 1934, 10 million in 1936, 50 million in 1955, 100 million in 1963 and 200 million in 1979.

• Recreation visits defined: “The entry of a person onto lands or waters administered by the NPS for recreational purposes, excluding government personnel, through traffic (commuters), tradespeople, and people residing within park boundaries.”

Here's a look at the top 20 national parks for visitation in 2012:

Rank National Park 2012 visitors +/- from 2011
2011 rank
   1 Great Smoky Mountains        9,685,829      +676,999
       1
   2 Grand Canyon    4,421,352      +123,174
       2
   3 Yosemite    3,853,404         -97,989
       3
   4 Yellowstone    3,447,729        +53,403        4
   5 Rocky Mountain    3,229,617        +52,676
       5
   6 Zion    2,973,607      +148,102        7
   7 Olympic    2,824,908      +121,941        6
   8 Grand Teton    2,705,256      +117,819        8
   9 Acadia    2,431,052        +56,407
       9
 10 Cuyahoga Valley (Ohio)    2,299,722      +138,537
     10
 11 Glacier    2,162,035      +308,471
     11
 12 Hawaii Volcanoes
   1,483,928      +131,805      14
 13 Joshua Tree    1,396,117             -120
     13
 14 Bryce Canyon    1,385,352        +89,352      15
 15 Hot Springs (Arkansas)    1,302,505         -93,849      12
 16 Shenandoah    1,210,200            +317      16
 17 Everglades    1,141,906      +207,555      22
 18 Sequoia    1,106,584      +100,001      19
 19 Haleakala    1,094,668      +137,679      20
 20 Arches    1,070,577
       +29,819      17

Next 5—21: Mount Rainier (ranked No. 18 in 2011); 22: Death Valley; 23: Badlands; 24: Capitol Reef; 25: Petrified Forest.

Source: National Park Service Public Use Statistics Office.

bryce-canyon-thors-hammer

Sunrise backlights Thor's Hammer in Bryce Canyon. (REI Adventures photo)

National parks are just one category in a varied collection of properties managed by the National Park Service. Here is how NPS designations break down by category:

NPS Designation  Units    Example
National Monuments
   81
   Statue of Liberty, New York-New Jersey
National Historic Sites    78    Tuskegee Airmen, Alabama
National Parks    58    Grand Canyon, Arizona
National Historical Parks    46    Chaco Culture, New Mexico
National Memorials    29    Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
National Preserves    18    Tallgrass Prairie, Kansas
National Recreation Areas    18    Santa Monica Mountains, California
National Battlefields    11    Antietam, Maryland
Miscellaneous designations    11    White House, District of Columbia
National Seashores    10    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
National Wild and Scenic Rivers    10    Saint Croix, Minnesota-Wisconsin
National Military Parks     9    Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
National Rivers     5    Buffalo National River, Arkansas  
National Parkways     4    Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina  
National Lakeshores     4    Pictured Rocks, Michigan  
National Battlefield Parks     4    Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia  
National Scenic Trails     3    Appalachian Trail, Maine to Georgia  
National Reserves     2    City of Rocks, Idaho  
National Battlefield Site     1    Brices Cross Roads, Mississippi  
International Historic Site     1    Saint Croix Island, Maine  

 Source: National Park Service.

Note: The NPS added 5 new national monuments in March, increasing its inventory to 403 units for 2013.

Note No. 2: Free entry is available April 22-26 at national parks only. Forest Service lands, BLM units and wildlife refuges are not participating. Plus, all other customary national park fees (campground fees, tour fees, et al.) will be collected.

san-juan-island-adventures-photo-2

A view of the new San Juan Islands National Monument. (REI Adventures photo)

   Most Visited Units of the National Park System, 2012

  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

Note: REI Adventures offers a broad selection of guided trips to more than a dozen national parks.

Posted on at 10:30 AM

Tagged: National Parks, fee-free days and visitation

Ratings and Comments

(0) (0)
write a comment
You already voted on this.
Log in to comment or rate.
arananusorn

Feeling very nice to see the increase in numbers of visitor in National Park. Mr. Wood can you add some of asian parks toooo here.. Kazinranga National Park is best pl,ace to see Indian One Horn Rhino.
Also their are many other Parks which is very famous for their distinct feature and specialities.
Please refer this link for Kaziranga National Park - http://blog.united21resortkaziranga.com/2012/10/kaziranga-national-park.html

Flag as Inappropriate

Flagging Questionable Content Protects the Community at REI.com

In what way this content is inappropriate? Please check one:

More Details (Optional)

Submit answer

Reply

Unable to Post Comment

We were unable to post your comment at this time. Your opinion matters, so please try again later.

Close
  • Most Recent
  • Most Commented

    No entries found

    No entries found