CNN

America’s most popular national parks are …

Feb 28, 2018, 1:59 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 3:59 pm
FILE PHOTO - A stormy sunset over The Watchman in Zion National Park on 8/29/12. NPS Photo/Sarah St...
FILE PHOTO - A stormy sunset over The Watchman in Zion National Park on 8/29/12. NPS Photo/Sarah Stio

(CNN) — Nearly 331 million people visited the National Park Service‘s 417 sites around the United States in 2017, a slight dip from the 331 million record-breaking visits during its centennial anniversary year in 2016.

Park service officials expected the slight decline after the centennial celebrations during the previous year. In 2016, the park service recorded its third consecutive all-time attendance record, and 77 national park sites set new records for annual recreation visits. (Of the 417 sites in the National Park Service, 385 count visits.)

While attendance numbers remained relatively stable, people actually spent more time in the parks in 2017 — more than 1.4 billion hours last year, an increase of 19 million hours over 2016.

“Our National Parks are being loved to death,” said US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a statement, whose agency oversees the National Park Service.

“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,” Zinke said.

Zinke is referring to the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance at the nation’s 417 National Park Service sites, which include the 59 headliner National Parks as well as national recreation areas, seashores, parkways, memorials, battlefields and more. Increased attendance at the parks, only 118 of which charge admission, means that many locations can’t keep up with repairs.

To make the point, the National Park Service released cost estimates for deferred maintenance at each of the top 10 most popular park sites and national parks.

Top three parks attract more than 40 million visits

The Blue Ridge Parkway (16 million visitors) took back the number one slot from 2016 winner Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which came in second place with nearly 15 million visitors last year.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (11.3 million) came in third place, followed by Gateway National Recreation Area (9.2 million) and the Lincoln Memorial (nearly 8 million).

The top 10 park sites attracted more than 5 million recreation visits each, including Lake Mead National Recreation Area, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Natchez Trace Parkway, Grand Canyon National Park and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Trump’s first year in the parks

President Donald Trump has not created any new national monuments during his first year in office, a power granted the president until the 1906 Antiquities Act. In contrast, President Barack Obama created 34 park sites during his eight years in office, including four in his final days in office. Some of those sites honored the country’s civil rights struggle, African-American history, Japanese-American history and the fight for women’s rights.

Trump signed two presidential proclamations on December 4, 2017 after declaring that he would reduce the size of two NPS monuments located in Utah.

In response, a group of Native American tribes filed a lawsuit against Trump and several administration officials claiming that his decision to significantly shrink Bears Ears National Monument is “in violation of the United States Constitution and the Antiquities Act of 1906.” Separately, US conservation organizations sued Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for dramatically shrinking Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Obama created Bears Ears and President Bill Clinton created Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Every fourth-grader around the country can still get a free one-year national parks pass for the student and his or her family under the “Every Kid in a Park” program, which has attracted more than 350,000 fourth graders in its first two years of operation.

Most popular National Park Service sites (417 total)

1. Blue Ridge Parkway (NC/VA): 16,093,765 visits ($186,619,608 deferred maintenance)

2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (CA): 14,981,897 visits ($325,814,011 deferred maintenance)

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC/TN): 11,388,893 visits ($64,049,392 deferred maintenance)

4. Gateway National Recreation Area (NY/NJ): 9,190,610 visits ($788,419,471 deferred maintenance)

5. Lincoln Memorial (DC): 7,956,117 visits ($33,868,238 deferred maintenance)

6. Lake Mead National Recreation Area (AZ/NV): 7,882,339 visits ($205,540,564 deferred maintenance)

7. George Washington Memorial Parkway (DC/MD/VA): 7,562,793 visits ($233,441,316 deferred maintenance)

8. Natchez Trace Parkway (AL/MS/TN): 6,326,062 visits ($10,656,651 deferred maintenance)

9. Grand Canyon National Park (AZ): 6,254,238 visits ($329,437,056 deferred maintenance)

10. Vietnam Veterans Memorial (DC): 5,072,589 visits ($625,250 deferred maintenance)

Most popular National Parks (59 total)

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC/TN): 11,388,893 visits ($64,049,392 deferred maintenance)

2. Grand Canyon National Park (AZ): 6,254,238 visits ($329,437,056 deferred maintenance)

3. Zion National Park (UT): 4,504,812 visits ($65,291,893 deferred maintenance)

4. Rocky Mountain National Park (CO): 4,437,215 visits ($84,234,245 deferred maintenance)

5. Yosemite National Park (CA): 4,336,890 visits ($582,670,827 deferred maintenance)

6. Yellowstone National Park (ID/MT/WY): 4,116,524 visits ($515,808,008 deferred maintenance)

7. Acadia National Park (ME): 3,509,271 visits ($59,858,099 deferred maintenance)

8. Olympic National Park (WA): 3,401,996 visits ($120,719,515 deferred maintenance)

9. Grand Teton National Park (WY): 3,317,000 visits ($178,630,525 deferred maintenance)

10, Glacier National Park (MT): 3,305,512 visits ($153,838,276 deferred maintenance)

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

CNN

MIDDLETOWN, MD- OCTOBER: 20
Stephen Ferrone (left) and his son Stevie Ferrone, 16  carry Herman bac...
AJ Willingham, CNN

How a 12-foot skeleton became the hottest Halloween decoration around

There are two kinds of people: those who understand the allure of a 12-foot skeleton decoration, and those who have yet to understand the allure of a 12-foot skeleton decoration.
17 hours ago
City of Uvalde
05 Oct 22...
Shimon Prokupecz, Matthew J. Friedman and Rachel Clarke, CNN

Uvalde school district fires new officer after discovering her actions during Uvalde shooting

Uvalde School District fired their new school officer after discovering she was being investigated for her response to the shooting in May.
17 hours ago
HONG KONG, CHINA - OCTOBER 21: A Cathay Pacific passenger jet takes off from Hong Kong Internationa...
Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN

Hong Kong offers 500,000 free air tickets to tempt tourists back

Hong Kong has confirmed plans to give away half a million airline tickets in a bid to boost tourism.
17 hours ago
At least 22 children were among 34 people killed in a mass shooting at a child care center in north...
Kocha Olarn, Hannah Ritchie and Heather Chen, CNN

Children among at least 34 people killed in nursery shooting in Thailand

At least 22 children were among 34 people killed in a mass shooting at a child care center in northeastern Thailand on Thursday.
17 hours ago
Image for this story only...
Yoonjung Seo and Caitlin Hu

North Korea fires another missile as tensions rise around Korean Peninsula

North Korea fired another missile into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula on Thursday morning local time, according to South Korean and Japanese officials, escalating tensions in the area amid a series of shows of military might this week.
2 days ago
Use this only in CNN article...
Jeff Zeleny and Alex Rogers, CNN

Could Republicans lose a Senate race in deep-red Utah?

In fewer than five weeks, the Utah Senate race will determine whether Sen. Mike Lee or Evan McMullin will be the wiser course for a conservative seeking elected office.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
America’s most popular national parks are …