Annual Visitation Highlights

The core mission of the National Park Service (NPS) is to protect park resources and values and to provide for the enjoyment of parks by this and future generations. By design, parks attract a significant amount of public interest which in turn generates a stream of visitors engaging in a variety of activities at parks. Good management of parks depends on consistent, reliable, high quality information about visitor use, and monitoring that use is a fundamental responsibility of park managers. To this end, agency managers devote a significant amount of staff time and funding to manage and monitor the use of parks by visitors. Some primary concerns are how many people visit a park, what they are doing while they visit, how long they stay and characteristics of the ‘typical’ visitor.

‘Visitor Use Statistics’ refers to a formal set of statistics collected by the National Park Service that address how many people visit parks and how long they stay. The set is comprised of recreation visit counts and hours, non-recreation visit counts and hours and overnight stays by category. Recreation visits are the most used and most visible visitor use statistic for the NPS. The definition of a recreation visit is the entry of persons onto lands or waters administered by the NPS for recreation purposes. More NPS visitor use statistics definitions are available from the Visitor Use Statistics program.
2017 Visitation Highlights

In 2017, the National Park Service received nearly 331 million recreation visits, falling just short of 2016’s record breaking year by less 90,000 visits. The graphs on this page display top ten parks by recreation visits for 2017. There are two graphs – one displays 2016 and 2017 recreation visit totals for the top 10 National Park System units and the other displays 2016 and 2017 recreation visit totals for the top 10 national parks (national parks are a subset of all National Park System units that includes only those sites designated as national parks and excludes national monuments, national recreation areas, etc). Historic visitation totals and the 2017 visitation highlights discussed below are also available for download.

To access more visitor use data for 2017 and other years, please visit our Visitor Use Statistics portal.
A slope graph showing the change in visitation across National Park units between 2016 and 2017.

This graph displays 2016 and 2017 recreation visit totals for the top 10 National Park System units. 2017 recreation visit totals and rankings are displayed on the right side of the graph; rankings and total recreation visits of the same NPS units in 2016 are shown on the left. The collection of parks in the top 10 was the same in both years, although rankings changed between the two years. Line endpoints and slopes indicate relative differences between recreation visits for the same park in 2016 and 2017.

  • Blue Ridge Parkway had an estimated 16,093,765 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 2nd place in 2016 to 1st place in 2017
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area had an estimated 14,981,897 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 1st place in 2016 to 2nd place in 2017
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park had an estimated 11,338,893 recreation visits in 2017 and occupied 3rd place in the rankings in 2016 and 2017
  • Gateway National Recreation Area had an estimated 9,190,610 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 5th place in 2016 to 4th place in 2017
  • Lincoln Memorial had an estimated 7,956,117 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 6th place in 2016 to 5th place in 2017
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area had an estimated 7,882,339 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 7th place in 2016 to 6th place in 2017
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway had an estimated 7,562,793 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 4th place in 2016 to 7th place in 2017
  • Natchez Trace Parkway had an estimated 6,326,062 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 9th place in 2016 to 8th place in 2017
  • Grand Canyon National Park had an estimated 6,254,238 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 8th place in 2016 to 9th place in 2017
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial had an estimated 5,072,589 recreation visits in 2017 and occupied 10th place in the rankings in 2016 and 2017

A slope graph that shows the increase in visitation for the ten most visited national parks from 2016-2017.

This graph displays 2016 and 2017 recreation visit totals for the top 10 national parks. National parks are a subset of all National Park System units that includes only those sites designated as national parks (excludes national monuments, national recreation areas, etc). 2017 recreation visit totals and rankings are displayed on the right side of the graph; rankings and total recreation visits of the same NPS units in 2016 are shown on the left. The collection of national parks in the top 10 was the same in both years, although rankings changed between the two years. Line endpoints and slopes indicate relative differences between recreation visits for the same park in 2016 and 2017.

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park had an estimated 11,338,893 recreation visits in 2017 and occupied 1st place in the rankings in 2016 and 2017
  • Grand Canyon National Park had an estimated 6,254,238 recreation visits in 2017 and occupied 2nd place in the rankings in 2016 and 2017
  • Zion National Park had an estimated 4,504,812 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 5th place in 2016 to 3rd place in 2017
  • Rocky Mountain National Park had an estimated 4,437,215 recreation visits in 2017 and occupied 4th place in the rankings in 2016 and 2017
  • Yosemite National Park had an estimated 4,336,890 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 3rd place in 2016 to 5th place in 2017
  • Yellowstone National Park had an estimated 4,116,524 recreation visits in 2017 and occupied 6th place in the rankings in 2016 and 2017
  • Acadia National Park had an estimated 3,509,271 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 8th place in 2016 to 7th place in 2017
  • Olympic National Park had an estimated 3,401,996 recreation visits in 2017 and changed ranking from 7th place in 2016 to 8th place in 2017
  • Grand Teton National Park had an estimated 3,317,000 recreation visits in 2017 and occupied 9th place in the rankings in 2016 and 2017
  • Glacier National Park had an estimated 3,305,512 recreation visits in 2017 and occupied 10th place in the rankings in 2016 and 2017

Last updated: July 26, 2018

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