Visitation in 2019 surpassed 2018 by more than 9 million recreation visits, a 2.9 percent increase, according to the annual visitation report from the National Park Service. This is the fifth consecutive year with over 300 million recreation visits. The 327.5 million total is the third-highest since record-keeping began in 1904. National park visitor spending contributed more than $40 billion to the U.S. economy.
“The numbers once again affirm that Americans and visitors from around the world love the natural, cultural and historic experience provided by our nation’s national parks,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.
“The 419 parks in the national park system provide a vast array of opportunities for recreation and inspiration for visitors of all ages,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela. “With at least one located in every state, national parks offer nearby history, culture, and adventure.”
Additional highlights from the 2019 visitation report:
- Recreation visitor hours have remained above 1.4 billion over the past four years.
- In the past five years, there have been nearly two billion recreation visits to national parks.
- Thirty-three parks set a new recreation visitation record in 2019.
- Fourteen parks broke a record they set in 2018.
- There were two longstanding records broken in 2019: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, with 432,818 recreation visits, broke a record they set in 1976 and Capulin Volcano National Monument broke a 1968 record with 81,617 recreation visits in 2019.
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area remained the most-visited site in the National Park System ahead of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- The third through seventh most-visited sites in 2019 – Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gateway National Recreation Area, the Lincoln Memorial, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and the George Washington Memorial Parkway – retained their 2018 order.
- Visitation to the Natchez Trace Parkway finished just ahead of visitation to Grand Canyon National Park for the eighth most-visited site.
- Gulf Islands National Seashore was number 10.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (12.5 million) and Grand Canyon National Park (5.97 million) continue to hold the first and second most-visited congressionally designated National Parks in the United States.
- Rocky Mountain National Park held on to third place and set a new visitation record at 4.67 million.
- Zion National Park stayed in fourth place with 4.49 million visits in 2019.
- Yosemite National Park recovered from a drop in 2018 visitation attributed to wildland fires and moved past Yellowstone National Park for fifth place.
- The remaining spots in the top 15 are Yellowstone, Acadia National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Olympic National Park, Glacier National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Indiana Dunes National Park, and Gateway Arch National Park.
2019 by the numbers:
- 327,516,619 recreation visits
- 1,429,969,885 recreation visitor hours
- 13,860,047 overnight stays (recreation + non-recreation)
- Three parks had more than 10 million recreation visits – Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 11 parks had more than five million recreation visits
- 80 parks had more than one million recreation visits (21 percent of reporting parks)
- 25 national parks had more than 1 million recreation visits (40 percent of National Parks)
- 50 percent of total recreation visits occurred in 27 parks (7 percent of all parks in the National Park System)