In the summer travelers usually flock to national parks. National monuments, however, are less-crowded alternatives that often shine a light on the history of the U.S. Many of the country’s most popular national monuments have patriotic significance, while others are visited for the scenic beauty.
To identify the most popular national monuments in 2020, 24/7 Tempo reviewed last year’s recreational visits published in the National Park Service’s annual visitation report. The NPS aggregates visitation data for various government land designations and visitation purposes. Only national monuments (NM) were considered in our analysis.
The NPS takes care of more than 85 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Though NPS locations are generally referred to as parks, there are several name designations. The NPS manages a total of 84 national monuments.
Monuments in the West and Southwest are the most visited — perhaps suggesting people living in those regions are the biggest fans of national monuments. Of the 30 most visited in 2020, six are in Arizona, four in California, and three in New Mexico.
Exploring the wilderness, hiking through mountains, and sleeping under the stars are just some of the nature experiences these parks have to offer, often free of charge. And these are the national parks that had the most visitors in 2020.