Top Ten Most Visited National Parks
There are 59 different national parks located in the United States. In total, they cover greater than 40,000,000 acres across the United States and attract in excess of 20,000,000 visitors per year. Here are the top ten most visited national parks in the United States:
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National park is located along the Cuyahoga River between the cities of Akron and Cleveland, Ohio. This 20,339 acre national park is the youngest national park in the nation and is the only national park located in the state of Ohio. It wasn’t officially considered a national park until October 11, 2000. Still, more than 2,000,000 people visit the national park on a yearly basis. The park features miles of hiking and biking trails along the beautiful Cuyahoga River and put a stop to urban sprawl in central Ohio.
Acadia National Park
Located on Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine, Acadia national park covers most of the island and is the oldest national park located east of the Mississippi River. The park covers an area of 47,452 acres in total and was established in 1916. The park covers very diverse terrain including coastal area, small mountains, woodlands, and lakes. The park is also home to more than 40 different species of mammals including squirrels, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, moose, beaver, porcupine, muskrats, foxes, coyote, bobcats, and black bears. It is one of the most biologically diverse areas on the east coast of the United States. 2,300,000 people per year visit this beautiful park.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah near Springdale. The most prominent feature of the park is the 15 mile long and 1/2 mile deep Zion canyon. The park was first established in 1919 and covers 146,597 acres. Every year nearly 2,900,000 people visit the park. At first glance, it would seem as if the terrain and climate is too hostile for any life, but upon closer inspection you will find more than 289 species of birds, 55 species of mammals, and 32 species of reptiles all coexist in the park. Nearly 150 million years of sedimentation are exposed in the canyon walls.
Grand Teton National park
Located in northwestern Wyoming, near Yellowstone Nation Park, Grand Teton National Park covers 310,000 acres including the 40-mile-long Teton range and the northern section of Jackson Hole. The park was first established on February 26, 1929. The Tetons are some of the most majestic mountains in all of the world. The tallest peak in the park is Grand Teton which measures 13,775 feet above Jackson Hole. Each year Grand Teton National Park attracts 2,705,256 visitors from around the world.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is located int he state of Washington. Established in 1938, the park covers more than 922,650 acres. It is one of the most diverse parks in the country and is made up of four distinct zones: the alpine area, the traditional forest area, the rainforest area, and the coastal area. At the very center of the park rise the Olympic Mountains and ridgelines, which are topped with massive ancient glaciers. The rainforest area is the rainiest place in the continental United States, getting nearly 150 inches of rain per year.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is located in northern Colorado right outside of Estes Park. It is also home to Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved stretch of continuous road in the United States. The road crosses the continental divide and reaches a maximum elevation of 12,183 feet. The 265,761 acre national park was first established in 1915. All in all, the park contains 359 miles of trails, 150 lakes, and 450 miles of streams and contains 72 named-peaks higher than 12,000 feet in elevation. The highest peak in the park is Longs Peak which rises to 14,259 feet. More than 3,000,000 people visit the park and mountain range that inspired the verse of “America the Beautiful” to mention “For purple mountain majesties.”
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is one of the largest national parks in the United States spanning 2,219,791 acres. It spans three states; Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was first established as a national park on March 1, 1872 and is considered to be the first national park in the world. The Old Faithful Geyser is one of the most popular features in the park and is recognized worldwide. Most people don’t realize it, but Yellowstone wasn’t thoroughly explored until the 1860′s.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park stretches over an area of 761,268 acres along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite on a yearly basis. It is internationally known for its beautiful granite cliffs, water falls, crystal clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity. Yosemite was officially designated a national park in 1890. Elevation ranges from 2,127 feet to 13,114 feet through the park. The park is also home to Vernal Fall, one of the most famous waterfalls in the United States. The 317 feet fall runs year around and is definitely a sight to see.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon attracts nearly 5 million people each year. Due to is seclusion in the Arizona desert, it is one of the cleanest national parks. On a clear day visibility can reach up to 110 miles. The Grand Canyon is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. In total, the park covers 1,217,262 acres and was named an official national park in 1919. The main tourist sites can get pretty crowded during peak seasons, but thankfully to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, it is easy to find your own secluded area. If you prefer to see it from the air, there are many helicopter tours available leaving from Las Vegas on a daily basis.
Great Smokey Mountains National Park
The nation’s busiest national park draws more than 9 million visitors per year, almost double any other national park in the United States. It is located between the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. The park was officially dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 and encompasses 522,419 acres, making it one of the largest protected area in the eastern part of the country. The smokey mountains are among the oldest mountains on the planet. Elevations in the park range from 876 feet all the way up to 6,643 feet at the summit of Clingmans Dome. It is also home to one of the most unique climates in all of the country. On average it rains 55 inches per year, making it the rainiest place in the nation outside of Washington state and Alaska.
Featured Image: Flickr by Paul Sullivan