Top Stories March 5, 2018

National Parks Get More Than 300 Million Visits

by Jackson Hole. Media

The National Park Service (NPS) today announced 330,882,751 recreation visits in 2017 – almost identical to the record-setting 330,971,689 recreation visits in 2016. While numbers were steady, visitors actually spent more time in parks during their 2017 visits compared to 2016.

Increased attendance at parks, 1.5 billion visits in the last five years, also means aging park facilities are incurring further wear and tear. President Trump has proposed legislation to establish a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund that would help address the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog in the National Park System. The fund would take new revenue from federal energy leasing and development and provide up to $18 billion to help pay for repairs and improvements in national parks, national wildlife refuges and Bureau of Indian Education funded schools.

“Our National Parks are being loved to death,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “As visitor rates continue at a high level, we must prioritize much-needed deferred maintenance including aging facilities, roads and other critical infrastructure. President Trump’s proposal to establish a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund is a step in the right direction. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an American issue, and the President and I remain ready to work with anyone in Congress who is willing to get the job done.”

National Park System 2017 visitation highlights include:

  • More than 1.44 billion recreation hours in 2017, an increase of 19 million hours over 2016
  • Most – 385 of 417 parks in the National Park System – count park visitors
  • 61 of the 385 reporting parks set new visitation records (about 16 percent of reporting parks)
  • 42 parks broke a record they set in 2016
  • 3 parks had more than 10 million recreation visits – Blue Ridge Parkway, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • 10 parks had more than 5 million recreation visits
  • 81 parks had more than 1 million recreation visits – one more million-visitor park than 2016
  • Half of national park visitation occurred in 27 parks
  • The total solar eclipse last August brought visitors in record numbers to several parks

Parks that passed notable recreational visit milestones for the first time:

  • Grand Canyon National Park 6 million
  • Zion National Park 4.5 million
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area 4 million
  • Boston National Historical Park 3 million
  • Glacier National Park 3 million
  • Bryce Canyon National Park 2.5 million
  • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park 2.5 million
  • Big Bend National Park 400,000
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve 400,000
  • Mississippi National Recreation and River Area 400,000
  • Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site 200,000
  • Congaree National Park 150,000
  • Great Basin National Park 150,000
  • Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site 150,000
  • Monocacy National Battlefield 100,000
  • Waco Mammoth National Monument 100,000
  • Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument 75,000
  • Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park 75,000
  • James A. Garfield National Historic Site 50,000
  • National Park of American Samoa 50,000
  • Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site 50,000
  • Agate Fossil Beds National Monument 30,000
  • Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument 30,000
  • Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve 30,000

Top 10 Visitation National Park System

Park Recreation Visits Deferred Maintenance
Blue Ridge Parkway 16,093,765 $186,619,608
Golden Gate National Recreation Area 14,981,897 $325,814,011
Great Smoky Mountains National Park 11,388,893 $64,049,392
Gateway National Recreation Area 9,190,610 $788,419,471
Lincoln Memorial 7,956,117 $33,868,238
Lake Mead National Recreation Area 7,882,339 $205,540,564
George Washington Memorial Parkway 7,562,793 $233,441,316
Natchez Trace Parkway 6,326,062 $10,656,651
Grand Canyon National Park 6,254,238 $329,437,056
Vietnam Veterans Memorial 5,072,589 $625,250

Top 10 Visitation National Parks


Recreation Visits

Deferred Maintenance

Great Smoky Mountains National Park



Grand Canyon National Park



Zion National Park



Rocky Mountain National Park



Yosemite National Park



Yellowstone National Park



Acadia National Park



Olympic National Park



Grand Teton National Park



Glacier National Park



For an in depth look at 2017 visitation figures please visit the NPS Social Science web site.

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