What if there are many options? National Parks What can you visit in the United States? Suffice it to say that the National Park Service, a branch of the Department of the Interior, manages more than 400 of different shapes, sizes and purposes throughout the country. Moreover, the office has a map to locate these outdoor spaces by state.
Of the 423 parks under the bureau’s oversight, only 25 received more than 50 percent of the total 297.1 million recreational visits in 2021. Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Golden Gate National Recreation Area were the only three that recorded numbers above 10 million.
It’s true that some facilities saw record visits last year—44 to be exact—yet system-wide numbers remained below pre-pandemic totals. In 2019, for example, 327.5 million visits were recorded.
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Which parks are the most popular?
Just based on last year’s numbers, this is how the list of the 25 most visited national parks is made up:
- Blue Ridge Parkway: 15.9 million
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 14.1 million
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area: 13.7 million
- Gateway National Recreation Area: 9.1 million
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area: 7.6 million
- George Washington Memorial Parkway: 6.8 million
- Natchez Trace Parkway: 6.4 million
- Lincoln Memorial: 5.8 million
- Gulf Islands National Seashore: 5.5 million
- Zion National Park: 5 million
- Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park: 5 million
- Yellowstone National Park: 4.9 million
- Grand Canyon National Park: 4.5 million
- Rocky Mountain National Park: 4.4 million
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: 4.3 million
- Acadia National Park: 4 million
- Cape Cod National Seashore: 4 million
- Grand Teton National Park: 3.9 million
- World War II Memorial: 3.7 million
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial: 3.6 million
- Yosemite National Park: 3.3 million
- Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area: 3.3 million
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore: 3.2 million
- Indiana Dunes National Park: 3.2 million
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: 3.1 million
According to the data, 11 parks had more than 5 million recreational visits, which means an increase of seven areas compared to 2020 and the same number compared to 2019.
Start your journey
For those considering a visit to these spaces in 2022, it is best to explore groups of parks. For example, Redwoods State and National Parks offer an opportunity to explore Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, and Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Acadia National Park in Maine opens the gates to the Saint Croix International Historic Site and one of America’s newest spaces, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
On the other hand, for those who already have a place of interest marked on the map, the advice is to check their website and be aware if there is a special requirement. To cite one case, Yosemite National Park will have a reservation system during peak hours from May 20 to September 30; this will be available from March 23, 2022.
How to reserve a ticket?
According to information from the National Park Service, less than a third of this type of facility considers a fee for access. “You can get passes by visiting a park site that charges an entrance fee,” the agency says.
Again, one of the best recommendations is to go to the electronic page of every park to be aware of passes and other provisions.
To have details of activities such as camping and tours, the site to go to is the recreation.gov, “the gateway to exploring America’s outdoor and cultural destinations.” It is clarified that not all parks participate in the platform.
Finally, it is worth visiting the page of the National Park Service in order to have information by state, or download your mobile app for updated data on the 423 national parks, available for iOS and Android.