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.
2018 Visitation Highlights

In 2018, the National Park Service received over 318 million recreation visits; down 12.67 million visits (3.8%) from 2017. 2018 was the third highest year for recreation visits (behind 2016 and 2017). The graphs on this page display top ten parks by recreation visits for 2018. There are two graphs – one displays 2017 and 2018 recreation visit totals for the top 10 National Park System units and the other displays 2017 and 2018 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 2018 visitation highlights discussed below are also available.

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 2017 and 2018.

This graph displays 2017 and 2018 recreation visit totals for the top 10 National Park System units. 2018 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 2017 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 2017 and 2018.

  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area had an estimated 15,223,697 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 2nd place in 2017 to 1st place in 2018
  • Blue Ridge Parkway had an estimated 14,690,418 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 1st place in 2017 to 2nd place in 2018
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park had an estimated 11,451,200 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 3rd place in the rankings in 2017 and 2018
  • Gateway National Recreation Area had an estimated 9,243,305 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 4th place in 2017 and 2018
  • Lincoln Memorial had an estimated 7,804,683 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 5th place in 2017 and 2018
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area had an estimated 7,578,958 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 6th place in 2017 and 2018
  • George Washington Memorial Parkway had an estimated 7,288,623 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 7th place in 2017 and 2018
  • Grand Canyon National Park had an estimated 6,380,495 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 9th place in 2017 to 8th place in 2018
  • Natchez Trace Parkway had an estimated 6,362,439 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 8th place in 2017 to 9th place in 2017
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial had an estimated 4,719,148 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 10th place in the rankings in 2017 and 2018

A slope graph that shows the increase in visitation for the ten most visited national parks from 2017-2018

This graph displays 2017 and 2018 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). 2018 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 2017 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 2017 and 2018.

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park had an estimated 11,421,200 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 1st place in the rankings in 2017 and 2018
  • Grand Canyon National Park had an estimated 6,380,495 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 2nd place in the rankings in 2017 and 2018
  • Rocky Mountain National Park had an estimated 4,590,493 recreation visits in 2018 and changed from 4th place to in 2017 to 3rd place in 2018
  • Zion National Park had an estimated 4,320,033 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 3rd place in 2017 to 4th place in 2018
  • Yellowstone National Park had an estimated 4,115,000 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 6th place in 2017 to 5th place in 2018
  • Yosemite National Park had an estimated 4,009,436 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 5th place in 2017 to 6th place in 2018
  • Acadia National Park had an estimated 3,537,575 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 7th place in the rankings in 2017 and 2018
  • Grand Teton National Park had an estimated 3,491,151 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 9th place in 2017 to 8th place in 2018
  • Olympic National Park had an estimated 3,104,455 recreation visits in 2018 and changed ranking from 8th place in 2017 to 9th place in 2018
  • Glacier National Park had an estimated 3,965,309 recreation visits in 2018 and occupied 10th place in the rankings in 2017 and 2018

Last updated: March 13, 2019

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