Top 3 Most Visited National Parks in the United States

Top 3 Most Visited National Parks in the United States

These national parks in the United States see visitors in the millions.

The National Park Service in the United States is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. What better time to take the chance to explore some of the natural wonders that North America has to offer?

The National Park Service has spent a century preserving and protecting some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and has made it possible for increasing numbers of people to enjoy their natural splendour.

There are plenty of breathtaking places to explore across the whole of the United States, though if you have yet to see most of them, you will have to start somewhere. Why not begin with the three most popular parks? These three parks rejoice in the highest visitor numbers, and it is easy to see why.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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This National Park is found in the states of North Carolina and Tennessee. It covers an area of  521,490.13 acres. While its high visitor numbers are partly attributable to its proximity to urban centres, the awesome scenery and natural diversity also have something to do with it! Over 10 million people visited this park in 2015 to escape the crowds and enjoy the tranquillity of the mountain backcountry. You can enjoy over 800 miles of trails throughout the park.

Over ten thousand species of plant and animal life have been found in the park, so this is the perfect place to come to see a wide variety of wildlife. The lush forests and blooming wildflowers, the mist-laden mountains, rushing rivers, wonderful waterfalls and susurrating streams all make for a natural idyll – the perfect escape for artists or for those who enjoy recreation in the great outdoors.

On the peaks, shrouded in mists, and the dense forests, 1,500 black bears. Perhaps you will catch a distant glimpse of one of these grand mammals as you camp at one of the park’s campsites or hike along the famous Appalachian Trail that runs through the park. Perhaps you will see a black blur in the trees as you cycle or ride on horseback between the trees. Whatever you do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and whichever time of year you choose to visit, you will surely never fail to be enchanted by the majesty of nature.

Grand Canyon National Park

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No one can deny that the Grand Canyon is truly one of the wonders of the world. To see that large chasm stretching off into the distance is to be awed and humbled by the power of nature. A visit to the Grand Canyon National Park means a treat for the eyes and a deep delight for the soul, whether you brave the crowds at the South Rim, or the smaller crowds on the North Rim, or head beyond the rim and hike, trek or even take a helicopter ride into the river valley far below. No wonder that over 5.5 million people visited the park in 2015.

The Grand Canyon National Park is the crown of northwestern Arizona. It encompasses the most impressive parts of the huge gorge carved by the Colorado River. Nature lovers will find that the canyon is home to a unique and diverse ecosystem and historians will be fascinated to find out about the human inhabitants of the region, through a number of interesting Native American sites along the length of the river. Photographers and artists will surely be inspired by the never-ending vistas and those seeking adventure will not be disappointed by all the exciting activities on offer.

This iconic national park really should be on everyone’s bucket list. Seeing the canyon for the first time and, better still, descending the steep paths that wind down to the Colorado River, can literally be a life-changing experience! Spending a night camping at the Rim or in the canyon itself is a great way to really get to know this awe-inspiring location and get to feel some of its very special vibe. This is definitely not one to be missed!

Also read: Grand Canyon – of Wonders and Inspiration

Rocky Mountain National Park

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Image credit: Stefaan Van Damme

Covering the Rocky Mountains in the state of Colorado, this national park covers an area of 265,761 acres. It is fascinating in the fact that it lies on the Continental Divide. All of the water that falls to the west of this line drains into the Pacific while everything on the east of the line eventually drains into the Atlantic. The west and east sides of the park have very different characters and topography. The west of the park is characterised by wet, dense, lush forest while the east is much drier and is characterised by high, glaciated peaks.

The mountains are of course the crowning glory of the park and the feature that most people have come here to be inspired by and to enjoy. There are a staggering 72 named peaks in the park over a height of 3,700m and over a quarter of the land area of the park lies above the treeline. These iconic Rocky Mountains are an important feature of American identity and run line a spine down through the country, calling to hikers, mountaineers and all those who hear the call of the peaks.

Snow-clad mountain peaks and scenic lakes make for scenery that will take your breath away and provide some popular hiking trails. The hike to the park’s highest summit, Longs Peak. is extremely popular and Bear Lake is another appealing trailhead and destination in the park. Whether you simply take in some of the highlights, camp for a time, or spend a more lengthy stay in the wild backcountry of the park, the Rocky Mountains are sure to make a profound impression.

Also Read: 12 National Parks in the United States You Need to Visit

Each of these parks contains unmissable destinations for nature lovers. They each offer something truly special. So if you are considering a trip to the United States, consider celebrating the National Park Service Centenary by visiting one of the most popular National Parks in the country.

About Author

Elizabeth Waddington
Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington lives in rural Scotland with her husband and her dog. She is part of a small community who are trying to live as sustainably as possible. A professional freelance writer who works from home full time, she has over ten years of writing experience and an MA in English and Philosophy. She mostly writes about travel, sustainability and permaculture and has a particular interest in adventure holidays, camping, walking and sustainable travel. She travels whenever she can.


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