Interest in national parks has been soaring over the last decade. In fact, total visits to all types of U.S. national parks almost exceeded the nation’s population in 2019. In 2010, the number of visitors was closer to 281 million.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closures of different parks all over the country, including national parks at various times. People were ordered to stay at home as much as possible and avoid nonessential activities, such as recreational trips. Visitation to national parks as well as national parks and preserves, specifically, fell by about a third in 2020 compared to 2019, but millions of people still venture out into the wilderness.

To identify the most visited national parks in 2020, 24/7 Tempo reviewed recreational visits from the National Park Service’s annual visitation report. The NPS has at least 19 official designations for the lands the agency manages. Only national parks (NP) and national parks and preserves (NP & PRES) were considered in our analysis.

The national park concept was an idea championed by Theodore Roosevelt. As president, Roosevelt protected about 230 million acres of public land and signed into law the 1906 American Antiquities Act. This act set aside certain public natural areas as park and conservation land to be preserved for historic and scientific interest. These areas were designated as national monuments. Ten years later, Congress passed the Organic Act, creating the National Park Service.

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.

With COVID-19 vaccination rates increasing and states beginning to loosen travel restrictions, many Americans may decide to explore the country and go on a road trip. And when we can travel again, these are the most beautiful places to visit in the U.S.

Methodology

To identify the most visited national parks 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 Parks (NP) and National Parks and Preserves (NP & PRES) were considered in our analysis. To avoid double counting land area, designations such as national monuments and historic sites, which are frequently contained within national parks and are often limited to single structures, were excluded. Visitation data for each park for 2015 was also obtained from the NPS.

**63. Gates of the Arctic**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 2,872

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.004%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 10,745 — #62 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.01%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -73.3%

**62. National Park of American Samoa**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 4,819

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.007%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 13,892 — #61 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.02%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -65.3%

**61. Lake Clark**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 4,948

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.007%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 17,818 — #60 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.02%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -72.2%

**60. Glacier Bay**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 5,748

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.009%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 551,353 — #36 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.7%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -99.0%

**59. Isle Royale**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 6,493

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.01%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 18,684 — #59 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.02%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -65.2%

**58. Kobuk Valley**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 11,185

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.02%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** N/A — #N/A out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** !Undefined Bookmark, N%

**> 5-year change in visits:** !Undefined Bookmark, N%

**57. Wrangell-St. Elias**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 16,655

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.02%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 80,366 — #55 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.1%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -79.3%

**56. North Cascades**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 30,885

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.05%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 20,677 — #58 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.03%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 49.4%

**55. Dry Tortugas**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 48,543

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.1%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 70,862 — #56 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.1%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -31.5%

**54. Katmai**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 51,511

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.1%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 37,818 — #57 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.1%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 36.2%

**53. Denali**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 54,850

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.1%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 560,757 — #35 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.7%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -90.2%

**52. Kenai Fjords**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 115,882

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 296,697 — #48 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.4%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -60.9%

**51. Congaree**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 119,306

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 87,513 — #54 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.1%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 36.3%

**50. Great Basin**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 120,248

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 116,123 — #53 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.1%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 3.6%

**49. Guadalupe Mountains**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 151,256

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 169,535 — #52 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.2%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -10.8%

**48. Pinnacles**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 165,740

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 206,533 — #51 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.3%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -19.8%

**47. Channel Islands**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 167,290

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 324,816 — #46 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.4%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -48.5%

**46. Virgin Islands**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 167,540

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 438,372 — #44 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.6%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -61.8%

**45. Carlsbad Caverns**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 183,835

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.3%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 445,720 — #43 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.6%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -58.8%

**44. Voyageurs**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 263,091

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.4%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 238,313 — #49 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.3%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 10.4%

**43. Redwood**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 265,177

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.4%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 527,143 — #38 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.7%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -49.7%

**42. Mesa Verde**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 287,477

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.4%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 547,325 — #37 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.7%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -47.5%

**41. Mammoth Cave**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 290,392

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.4%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 566,895 — #34 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.7%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -48.8%

**40. Haleakala**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 319,147

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.5%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,216,772 — #21 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.5%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -73.8%

**39. Black Canyon of the Gunnison**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 341,620

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.5%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 209,166 — #50 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.3%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 63.3%

**38. Petrified Forest**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 384,483

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.6%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 793,225 — #28 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.0%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -51.5%

**37. Big Bend**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 393,907

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.6%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 381,747 — #45 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.5%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 3.2%

**36. Biscayne**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 402,770

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.6%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 508,164 — #39 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.6%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -20.7%

**35. Kings Canyon**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 415,077

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.6%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 468,106 — #41 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.6%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -11.3%

**34. White Sands**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 415,383

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.6%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 497,506 — #40 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.6%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -16.5%

**33. Wind Cave**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 448,405

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.7%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 612,198 — #32 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.8%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -26.8%

**32. Great Sand Dunes**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 461,532

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.7%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 299,513 — #47 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.4%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 54.1%

**31. Gateway Arch**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 486,021

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.7%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,698,656 — #15 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 2.1%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -71.4%

**30. Canyonlands**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 493,914

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.7%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 634,607 — #30 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.8%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -22.2%

**29. Lassen Volcanic**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 542,274

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.8%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 468,092 — #42 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.6%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 15.8%

**28. Theodore Roosevelt**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 551,303

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.8%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 580,033 — #33 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.7%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -5.0%

**27. Hawaii Volcanoes**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 589,775

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 0.9%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,832,660 — #13 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 2.3%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -67.8%

**26. Crater Lake**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 670,500

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.0%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 614,712 — #31 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.8%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 9.1%

**25. Everglades**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 702,319

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.0%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,077,427 — #25 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.3%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -34.8%

**24. Saguaro**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 762,226

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.1%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 753,446 — #29 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 0.9%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 1.2%

**23. Sequoia**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 796,086

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,097,464 — #24 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.4%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -27.5%

**22. Death Valley**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 820,023

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,154,843 — #23 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.4%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -29.0%

**21. Badlands**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 916,932

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.3%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 989,354 — #26 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.2%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -7.3%

**20. Capitol Reef**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 981,038

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.4%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 941,029 — #27 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.2%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 4.3%

**19. New River Gorge**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 1,054,374

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.6%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,178,753 — #22 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.5%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -10.6%

**18. Mount Rainier**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 1,160,754

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.7%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,237,231 — #20 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.5%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -6.2%

**17. Arches**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 1,238,083

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 1.8%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,399,247 — #18 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.7%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -11.5%

**16. Hot Springs**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 1,348,215

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 2.0%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,418,162 — #17 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.8%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -4.9%

**15. Bryce Canyon**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 1,464,655

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 2.2%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,745,804 — #14 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 2.2%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -16.1%

**14. Shenandoah**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 1,666,265

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 2.5%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,321,873 — #19 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 1.7%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 26.1%

**13. Glacier**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 1,698,864

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 2.5%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 2,366,056 — #10 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 3.0%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -28.2%

**12. Yosemite**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 2,268,313

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 3.3%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 4,150,217 — #4 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 5.2%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -45.3%

**11. Indiana Dunes**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 2,293,106

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 3.4%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 1,640,195 — #16 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 2.0%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 39.8%

**10. Joshua Tree**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 2,399,542

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 3.5%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 2,025,756 — #12 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 2.5%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 18.5%

**9. Olympic**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 2,499,177

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 3.7%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 3,263,761 — #7 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 4.1%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -23.4%

**8. Acadia**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 2,669,034

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 3.9%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 2,811,184 — #9 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 3.5%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -5.1%

**7. Cuyahoga Valley**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 2,755,628

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 4.1%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 2,284,612 — #11 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 2.8%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 20.6%

**6. Grand Canyon**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 2,897,098

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 4.3%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 5,520,736 — #2 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 6.9%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -47.5%

**5. Grand Teton**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 3,289,638

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 4.8%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 3,149,921 — #8 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 3.9%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 4.4%

**4. Rocky Mountain**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 3,305,199

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 4.9%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 4,155,916 — #3 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 5.2%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -20.5%

**3. Zion**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 3,591,254

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 5.3%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 3,648,846 — #6 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 4.5%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -1.6%

**2. Yellowstone**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 3,806,306

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 5.6%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 4,097,710 — #5 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 5.1%

**> 5-year change in visits:** -7.1%

**1. Great Smoky Mountains**

**> Recreation visits in 2020:** 12,095,720

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2020:** 17.8%

**> Recreation visits in 2015:** 10,712,674 — #1 out of 63

**> Share of all NP recreation visits in 2015:** 13.3%

**> 5-year change in visits:** 12.9%