More NPS Attendance Marks Fall

More NPS Attendance Marks Fall

With prominent parks such as Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Zion, Olympic and Grand Teton enjoying historic attendance, National Park Service has set visitation records for the second straight year, according to preliminary figures.

(NOTE: Clicking on an image will launch a full-sized gallery of some of the most visited national parks).

The park service’s 409 units attracted more than 305 million visitors, besting 2014 by 12 million, and an even bigger onslaught is expected for 2016, when the agency celebrates its centennial amidst huge marketing pushes – including the stunning IMAX 3D film, “National Parks Adventure” (see trailer below).

Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco continued to be the system’s most visited area with just under 15 million visitors.

The most recognizable parks, the 59 units with “national park” designation, accounted for almost half of the increase from last year, according to the preliminary figures. Official figures generally are released in mid-January.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park continued to be the national parks colossus, topping 10 million visitors for the fifth time in 80 years, and setting a park record with 10,665,416 visitors. That totaled topped a mark of 10,283,598 that stood since 1999. The park, which is in Tennessee and North Carolina, had four months with at least 1 million visitors – June (1.3 million), July (nearly 1.5 million), August (1.2 million) and fall-colored October (1.3 million).

Grand Canyon National Park proved a sturdy No. 2, drawing a park-record 5.5 million.

Rocky Mountain, Yosemite and Yellowstone also topped 4 million visitors, with only Yosemite just missing a park record. Zion, Olympic and Grand Teton National Parks topped 3 million visitors, each setting park records. In all 11 parks exceeded 2 million visitors and 22 had 1 million or more.

A month-by-month report of the most visited national parks begins after the trailer.





Top 20 National Parks, ranked monthly by cumulative attendance in 2015. With gain/loss from the same month last year.

Click a Month: December | November | October | September | August | July | June | May | April | March | February | January

December: Winter’s icy grip slowed Yellowstone’s visitation to a crawl, allowing it to be overtaken by Rocky Mountain and Yosemite in the final count. Rocky Mountain rode its centennial year to a No. 3 overall showing, at least two spots above its typical ranking. Hawaii Volcanoes had the third-biggest December among national parks, with 150,342 visitors, allowing it to hop into the No. 13 spot. Hot Springs also had a strong month, allowing it to pass Shenandoah and Mount Rainier, which fell to No. 18. Everglades became the 22nd park to top 1 million visitors.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) Month +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 10,665,416 +561,189
2 Grand Canyon (2) AZ 5,501,210 -+744,439
3 Rocky Mountain (4) CO 4,142,164 +707,413
4 Yosemite (5) CA 4,133,550 -+250,908
5 Yellowstone (3) MT/WY/ID 4,133,550 +582,097
6 Zion (6) UT 3,653,329 +463,633
7 Olympic (7) WA 3,267,891 +24,019
8 Grand Teton (8) WY 3,125,967 +334,575
9 Acadia (9) ME 2,7256,262 -+193,133
10 Glacier (10) MT 2,364,066 -+25,538
11 Cuyahoga Valley (11) OH 2,281,425 +91,576
12 Joshua Tree (12) CA 1,897,610 +307,706
13 Hawaii Volcanoes (14) HI 1,823,131 +130,126
14 Bryce Canyon (13) UT 1,741,113 +305,372
15 Arches (15) UT 1,398,485 +113,718
16 Hot Springs (18) AK 1,309,401 -115,083
17 Shenandoah (17) VA 1,308,407 -+53,085
18 Mount Rainier (16) WA 1,276,686 +12,427
19 Haleakala (19) HI 1,1214,723 +72,683
20 Death Valley (20) CA 1,168,831 -+67,519
21 Everglades (NR) FL 1,109,873 -1,028
22 Sequoia (21) CA 1,097,046 -57,909

Source: National Park Service.

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November: With a month to go, the National Park Service is only about 600,000 short of its 2014 visitation record of 292.8 million, virtually assuring the agency another milestone as it heads into its centennial.

Already, among its top “national park” designees, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain and Glacier have topped park records. The big daddy, Great Smoky Mountains, is about 100,000 short of another record; its fewest visitors was about 300,000 in February. It drew about 1.5 million in July alone.

The NPS so far in 2015 has five “national park” units topping 4 million in attendance and eight topping 3 million.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) Month +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 10,150,138 +561,189
2 Grand Canyon (3) AZ 5,068,051 -+567,896
3 Yellowstone (2) MT/WY/ID 4,077,241 +582,097
4 Rocky Mountain (4) CO 4,061,665 +706,946
5 Yosemite (5) CA 4,033,312 -+285,161
6 Zion (6) UT 3,551,343 -+463,633
7 Olympic (7) WA 3,165,701 -4,586
8 Grand Teton (8) WY 3,084,369 +333,353
9 Acadia (9) ME 2,724,853 -+175,234
10 Glacier (10) MT 2,352,699 -+25,538
11 Cuyahoga Valley (11) OH 2,169,465 +91,576
12 Joshua Tree (14) CA 1,827,506 +417,748
13 Bryce Canyon (12) UT 1,685,855 +279,791
14 Hawaii Volcanoes (13) HI 1,672,789 +130,126
15 Arches (15) UT 1,372,560 +114,304
16 Mount Rainier (16) WA 1,301,352 +52,210
17 Shenandoah (19) VA 1,273,787 -+40,148
18 Hot Springs (17) AK 1,250,397 -1-115,083
19 Haleakala (NR) HI 1,112,655 +72,683
20 Death Valley (18) CA 1,090,209 -+72,354
21 Sequoia (18) CA 1,052,218 -+55,543

Source: National Park Service.

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October: A change of seasons did well for Great Smoky Mountains, which attracted 1,303,405 visitors in October — the fourth-highest monthly attendance of the year. GSM also holds the Nos. 1-3 highest months. … Meanwhile, the change of seasons slowed Yellowstone, which had surged into the second spot, only to slow considerably (194,804) in October. That allowed Grand Canyon, with 410,933 visitors during the month, to slip back to No. 2. … Haleakala moved back into the Top 20, into 19th, with Sequoia falling out. … Seven national parks already have topped 3 million in attendance, matching last year’s total.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) Month +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 9,372,559 +420,206
2 Grand Canyon (3) AZ 4,811,346 -+567,896
3 Yellowstone (2) MT/WY/ID 4,008,983 +525,376
4 Rocky Mountain (4) CO 3,877,827 +614,023
5 Yosemite (5) CA 3,771,612 -+227,139
6 Zion (6) UT 3,360,095 -+441,992
7 Olympic (7) WA 3,096,514 +1,919
8 Grand Teton (8) WY 2,865,757 +152,129
9 Acadia (9) ME 2,354,678 -163,928
10 Glacier (10) MT 2,320,208 -+8,753
11 Cuyahoga Valley (11) OH 2,007,630 +39,270
12 Bryce Canyon (12) UT 1,641,186 +279,791
13 Hawaii Volcanoes (13) HI 1,3524,222 +264,981
14 Joshua Tree (14) CA 1,499,012 +272,979
15 Arches (15) UT 1,197,205 +107,733
16 Mount Rainier (16) WA 1,190,463 +52,767
17 Shenandoah (19) VA 1,183,187 -+23,563
18 Hot Springs (17) AK 1,142,338 -122,103
19 Haleakala (NR) HI 1,016,645 +67,053
20 Death Valley (18) CA 1,009,636 -+72,354

Source: National Park Service.

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Septembert: Bolstered by its centennial celebration, Rocky Mountain drew 537,694 visitors in September, allowing it to leapfrog Yosemite into the No. 4 spot. … Great Smoky Mountains (978,105) and Yellowstone (680,213) continued to perform strongly with the month’s top figures. … Shenandoah sneaked back into the top 20 at No. 19. Haleakala dropped out of the standings.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) Month +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 67,965,441 +316,538
2 Yellowstone (2) MT/WY/ID 3,814,179 +525,376
3 Grand Canyon (3) AZ 3,612,511 -220,006
4 Rocky Mountain (5) CO 3,465,520 +507,367
5 Yosemite (4) CA 3,416,843 -+227,139
6 Zion (7) UT 3.002,641 -+388,646
7 Olympic (6) WA 2,952,896 +4,589
8 Grand Teton (8) WY 2,856,300 +290,953
9 Acadia (10) ME 2.336.970 +132,284
10 Glacier (9) MT 2,247,514 -+8,753
11 Cuyahoga Valley (10) OH 1,779,459 +39,270
12 Bryce Canyon (14) UT 1,509,696 +279,791
13 Hawaii Volcanoes (13) HI 1,398,341 +108,277
14 Joshua Tree (12) CA 1,375,075 +272,979
15 Arches (15) UT 1,197,205 +101,434
16 Mount Rainier (16) WA 1,061,312 +52,767
17 Hot Springs (17) AK 1,140,707 -122,103
18 Death Valley (18) CA 937,724 -+96,968
19 Shenandoah (NR) VA 930,387 -+25,563
20 Sequoia (19) CA 923,362 +42,831

Source: National Park Service.

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August, 2015, notes: Yellowstone followed up its record monthly attendance in July with a mammoth August to shoot into the No. 2 spot, overtaking Grand Canyon. … After holding down the No. 7 spot for three months, Olympic drew the month’s second-highest total, 860,611 visitors, to jump Zion into No. 6. Also hurdling Zion was Rocky Mountain, which cruised into its centennial with another strong month. … Sequoia (21 to 19) was the lone addition to the top 20. Everglades dropped out to No. 23.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) Month +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 6,991,716 +320,918
2 Yellowstone (4) MT/WY/ID 3,133,966 +416,927
3 Grand Canyon (2) AZ 3,124,152 -220,006
4 Yosemite (4) CA 2,962,230 -+239,731
5 Rocky Mountain (6) CO 2,779,073 +358,614
6 Olympic (7) WA 2,716,853 +163,041
7 Zion (5) UT 2,661,786 -+388,646
8 Grand Teton (9) WY 2,193,293 +188,220
9 Glacier (15) MT 1,910,509 -+25,245
10 Acadia (12) ME 1,892,723 +106,210
11 Cuyahoga Valley (10) OH 1,557,676 +39,270
12 Joshua Tree (11) CA 1,340,655 +328,527
13 Hawaii Volcanoes (11) HI 1,263,753 +95,639
14 Bryce Canyon (12) UT 1,238,645 +225,733/td>
15 Arches (13) UT 1,031,983 +101,434
16 Mount Rainier (20) WA 948,943 +61,458
17 Hot Springs (16) AK 880,904 +-127,331
18 Death Valley (18) CA 826,594 -+96,431
19 Sequoia (21) CA 817,929 +49,508
20 Haleakala (17) HI 808,744 +49,311

Source: National Park Service.

July, 2015: With 980,702 visitors, Yellowstone busted its own monthly attendance record and had the third-largest month of any park this year, allowing it to leap frog over Zion and Rocky Mountain. The goliath, Great Smoky Mountains, remained in its own galaxy, drawing the year’s biggest month with 1,445,328 visitors. Five more parks — Grand Teton, Glacier, Cuyahoga Valley, Acadia and Hawaii Volcanoes — topped the million-visitor mark, making 13 in all. Standbys, Grand Teton and Glacier, moved into the top 10, up from 17th and 25th, respectively, in May. Mount Rainier joined the top 20 from No. 25 last week, while Saguaro dropped from 20 to No. 21.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) To Date +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 5,777,882 +320,346
2 Grand Canyon (2) AZ 2,654,861 -18,270
3 Yosemite (4) CA 2,220,994 +152,652
4 Yellowstone (6) MT/WY/ID 2,157,711 -+214,029
5 Zion (3) UT 2,133,914 +252,747
6 Rocky Mountain (5) CO 1,997,506 +193,873
7 Olympic (7) WA 1,873,306 -+180,105
8 Grand Teton (9) WY 1,679,222 +100,924
9 Glacier (15) MT 1,331,502 -+121,357
10 Cuyahoga Valley (10) OH 1,284,596 +39,270
11 Joshua Tree (8) CA 1,233,869 +316,674
12 Acadia (16) ME 1,211,175 +63,377
13 Hawaii Volcanoes (11) HI 1,112,175 +95,639
14 Bryce Canyon (12) UT 962,138 +179,679
15 Arches (13) UT 836,227 +79,094
16 Hot Springs (14) AK 750,912 -64,999
17 Haleakala (13) HI 701,512 +40,537
18 Death Valley (19) CA 667,504 -+60,704
19 Everglades (18) FL 643,791 -67,105
20 Mount Rainier (25) WA 621,395 +54,288

Source: National Park Service.

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June, 2015: With summer comes the return of attendance patterns that we are accustomed. Visitation ramps up at Rocky Mountain National Park as it sails towards it centennial in September. Great Smoky Mountains posted the first million-visitor month of the year with 1,305,063 in June. Yellowstone had nearly 180,000 visitors to claim to No. 6. Two perennial top 10 parks, Glacier and Acadia, vaulted into the top 20 at No. 15 and 16. Capitol Reef and Shenandoah dropped out of the top 20.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) To Date +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 4,332,554 +320,346
2 Grand Canyon (2) AZ 2,315,316 +264,138
3 Zion (3) UT 1,726,761 +252,747
4 Yosemite (4) CA 1,494,666 -+49,987
5 Rocky Mountain (10) CO 1,303,821 +193,873
6 Yellowstone (12) MT/WY/ID 1,298,855 +214,029/td>
7 Olympic (7) WA 1,133,269 -+25,952
8 Joshua Tree (5) CA 1,130,573 +291,791
9 Grand Teton (17) WY 993,022 -+100,924
10 Cuyahoga Valley (8) OH 944,991 -14,028
11 Hawaii Volcanoes (6) HI 933,545 +80,858
12 Bryce Canyon (16) UT 742,394 +179,679
13 Arches (15) UT 666,383 +79,094
14 Hot Springs (11) AK 4646,368 +31,998
15 Glacier (25) MT 642,438 +131,943
16 Acadia (23) ME 635,540 +48,252
17 Haleakala (13) HI 596,093 +40,537
18 Everglades (10) FL 592,506 -54,066
19 Death Valley (15) CA 575,209 +47,738
20 Saguaro (18) AZ 466,210 +66,156

Source: National Park Service.

May, 2015: Some order is restored as Yellowstone returns to the top 20 (at No. 12) for the first time since February. Great Smoky Mountains had another mammoth month with 900,900 visitors. Shenandoah and Capitol Reef broke the top 20 for the first time this year; Capitol Reef joins Zion, Arches and Bryce Canon as top 20 parks in Utah. Big Bend, Petrified Forest and Virgin Islands dropped out.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) To Date +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 2,831,809 +124,664
2 Grand Canyon (2) AZ 1,701,400 +213,597
3 Zion (3) UT 1,268,215 +191,954
4 Yosemite (5) CA 1,038,879 -+90,563
5 Joshua Tree (4) CA 1,038,879 +205,642
6 Hawaii Volcanoes (6) HI 762,753 +56,636
7 Olympic (8) WA 737,085 -+25,952
8 Cuyahoga (9) OH 698,117 -14,028
9 Rocky Mountain (10) CO 695,025 -+123,802
10 Everglades (7) FL 534,134 +-54,066
11 Hot Springs (11) AK 521,929 +25,888
12 Yellowstone (26) MT/WY/ID 515,693 +100,509
13 Haleakala (12) HI 488,160 +36,581
14 Arches (15) UT 477,310 +60,307
15 Death Valley(14) CA 467,558 +21,233
16 Bryce Canyon (16) UT 436,929 +86,203
17 Grand Teton (17) WY 424,725 +48,252
18 Saguaro (13) AZ 423,160 +55,586
19 Shenandoah (24) VA 297,119 +16,353
20 Capitol Reef (23) UT 289,014 +36,300

Source: National Park Service.

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April, 2015: Great Smoky Mountains had the largest monthly attendance of the year (724,987); Grand Canyon had the second-largest (320,348) to vault to No. 2 overall; Bryce Canyon surged into the top 20 with 101,133 for the month. Grand Canyon also was the second park to crack 1 million visitors for the year so far. Sequoia dropped out of the rankings.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) To Date +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 1,918,206 +111,961
2 Grand Canyon (2) AZ 1,237,687 +213,597
3 Zion (5) UT 868,167 +183.875
4 Joshua Tree (3) CA 821,715 +185,150
5 Yosemite (6) CA 705,571 +90,563
6 Hawaii Volcanoes (4) HI 593,318 +10,863
7 Everglades (6) FL 463,423 -62,143
8 Olympic (9) WA 456,359 +28,188
9 Cuyahoga (13) OH 452,973 -14,028
10 Rocky Mountain (10) CO 435,314 +84,623
11 Hot Springs (8) AK 400,170 +39,020
12 Haleakala (12) HI 381,505 +19,942
13 Saguaro (11) AZ 369,757 +48,024
14 Death Valley (14) CA 352,636 +29,072
15 Arches (15) UT 297,506 +45,882
16 Bryce Canyon (31) UT 239,187 +45,560
17 Grand Teton (16) WY 206,891 +29,579
18 Petrified Forest (20) AZ 191,832 +21,374
19 Big Bend (18) TX 179,357 +34,375
20 Virgin Islands (17) VA 179,222 -27,756

Source: National Park Service.

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Mar, 2015: March is a great month for Arizona, with its pleasant weather contrasting to much of the country’s thawing out. Grand Canyon had the second-highest attendance with 353,920; Saguaro held steady at No. 11 and a third Arizona park, Petrified Forest, joined the list at No. 20. Chilly Yellowstone dropped from the top 20, as did Mount Rainier and Biscayne. Arches and Big Bend jumped into the rankings.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) To Date +/- 2014
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 1,126,983 +45,725
2 Grand Canyon (3) AZ 703,742 0
3 Joshua Tree CA 565,357 116,011
4 Hawaii Volcanoes (13) HI 448,383 -6,888
5 Zion (7) UT 411,056 39,145
6 Yosemite (4) CA 388,471 16,185
7 Everglades (6) FL 357,922 -70,186
8 Hot Springs (5) AK 324,298 73,117
9 Olympic WA 289,446 24,325
10 Rocky Mountain CO 283,128 29,537
11 Saguaro (11) AZ 276,292 25,053
12 Haleakala (8) HI 275,879 7,515
13 Cuyahoga Valley (10) OH 247,175 -21,803
14 Death Valley (14) CA 216,475 0
15 Arches (21) UT 158,603 29,165
16 Grand Teton (16) WY 146,301 14,856
17 Virgin Islands (17) VI 138,558 -11,885
18 Big Bend (22) TX 123,335 16,927
19 Sequoia (19) CA 113,068 12,231
20 Petrified Forest (23) AZ 112,326 8,524

Source: National Park Service.

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Feb, 2015: Joshua Tree had a much-publicized incidence of vandalism by a street artist, but equally newsworthy was its 200,450 visitors in February, esclipsed in the system by only the 296,451 visitors at Great Smoky Mountains. A perennial top five park in annual attendance, Yellowstone debuts on the list at No. 20.

Rank National Park (previous month rank) State(s) To Date +/- 2013
1 Great Smoky Mountains (1) NC/TN 669,766 +97,962
2 Joshua Tree (3) CA 369,547 +116,011
3 Grand Canyon (2) AZ 349,822 0
4 Yosemite (6) CA 241,721 +16,185
5 Hot Springs (4) AK 237,309 +106,510
6 Everglades (15) FL 189,950 -70,186
7 Zion (13) UT 184,632 +39,145
8 Haleakala (8) HI 179,003 +4,442
9 Rocky Mountain (7) CO 175,809 +21,295
10 Cuyahoga Valley (10) OH 170,870 0
11 Saguaro (11) AZ 159,263 +4,524
12 Olympic (12) WA 157,771 -547
13 Hawaii Volcanoes (5) UT 156,106 0
14 Death Valley (14) CA 126,089 0
15 Mount Rainier WA 101,853 +67,388
16 Grand Teton (16) WY 98,590 +14,856
17 Virgin Islands (20) CA 82,254 -13,365
18 Biscayne (18) FL 75,582 +3,972
19 Sequoia (17) TX 62,1977 +9,495
20 Yellowstone (NR) MT/WY/ID 56,324 +1,313

Source: National Park Service.

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Jan, 2015: The titanous Great Smoky Mountains predictably jumped out quickly. Equally predictable was the strong showing of winter escape locations — Florida, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. So popular a town grew around it in Arkansas, Hot Springs had the largest attendance gain from the previous January, 106,510.

Rank National Park State(s) To Date +/- 2013
1 Great Smoky Mountains NC/TN 373,315 +97,962
2 Grand Canyon AZ 173,458 0
3 Joshua Tree CA 169,097 +68,028
4 Hot Springs AK 163,564 +106,510
5 Hawaii Volcanoes HI 156,106 -1,666
6 Yosemite CA 128,318 +16,185
7 Rocky Mountain CO 98,928 +21,295
8 Haleakala HI 94,741 +4,442
9 Mount Rainier WA 91,212 +67,388
10 Cuyahoga Valley OH 89,704 0
11 Saguaro AZ 82,407 4,524
12 Olympic WA 79,877 -547
13 Zion UT 78,318 +7,456
14 Death Valley CA 59,718 0
15 Everglades FL 57,616 -70,186
16 Grand Teton WY 46,952 +2,169
17 Sequoia CA 35,320 +9,495
18 Biscayne FL 34,409 +3,972
19 Big Bend TX 30,297 1,887
20 Virgin Islands VI 29,861 -13,365

Source: National Park Service.

More NPS Attendance Marks Fall