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Re: Top 10 Visited sites in National Park System

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avatar Top 10 Visited sites in National Park System
April 06, 2013 06:17PM
WASHINGTON – More than 282 million people visited America’s national parks in 2012, an increase of more than 3 million over 2011. It was the sixth highest annual visitation in the history of the National Park Service, despite nearly 2 million fewer visitors as a result of park closures caused by Hurricane Sandy.

“The National Park Service strives to represent all that America has to offer,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “People come to national parks for many reasons – for recreation and to learn about American history by strolling through a battlefield. They come to listen to a park ranger at Independence National Historical Park and marvel at the Continental Congress. And people come to national parks for old-fashioned enjoyment of the great outdoors.”

National parks capture the story the United States, from its earliest days to the modern era. Jarvis said, “The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and the opening of the César E. Chávez National Monument in 2012 help us to continue to explore how our nation of many faces and many voices has developed.”

The challenges left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy will become part of American history, too. The storm slammed into 70 national park sites from North Carolina to Maine. Some parks closed briefly, others for weeks while the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York remain closed for repairs.

“The Statue of Liberty will reopen by the Fourth of July,” Jarvis said. “It’ll take longer at the Ellis Island Museum. As we rebuild we keep sustainability front of mind. It is clear that our changing climate will bring more severe weather events, especially to coastal areas, and we must repair our iconic national parks to survive future storms.”

There are familiar park names in our Top 10 lists. Gateway National Recreation Area in New York lost nearly 1.2 million visitors from 2011 because of Hurricane Sandy yet still made the Top 10 list of most visited National Park Service sites.

Most Visited Places of the National Park System (2012)

1. Blue Ridge Parkway 15,205,059

2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area 14,540,338

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park 9,685,829

4. George Washington Memorial Parkway 7,425,577

5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area 6,285,439

6. Lincoln Memorial 6,191,361

7. Natchez Trace Parkway 5,560,668

8. Gateway National Recreation Area 5,043,863

9. Gulf Islands National Seashore 4,973,462

10. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area 4,970,802

Most Visited National Parks (2012)

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park 9,685,829

2. Grand Canyon National Park 4,421,352

3. Yosemite National Park 3,853,404

4. Yellowstone National Park 3,447,729

5. Rocky Mountain National Park 3,229,617

6. Zion National Park 2,973,607

7. Olympic National Park 2,824,908

8. Grand Teton National Park 2,705,256

9. Acadia National Park 2,431,052

10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park 2,299,722

National park visitation statistics are viewable at http://www.nps.gov/news/researchlinks.htm Click on Most Visited Parks. Since 1916, the National Park System has recorded more than 12 billion visits.
avatar Re: Top 10 Visited sites in National Park System
April 06, 2013 09:49PM
From what I heard, Blue Ridge and the GGNRA cheat. They both have large highways going through them and they count all those cars as "visitors."
Re: Top 10 Visited sites in National Park System
April 07, 2013 10:16AM
I have been on a part of the Blue Ridge Parkway and it is a scenic road where the speed limit is 45 mph but with the cliffs, hairpin turns and tunnels,it is rare to have anyone go that speed. The park way connects Great Smoky Mts NP and Shenandoah NP and goes through two large national forests. It is not a large highway and there are only two large towns near it, Ashville and Roanoke where for a short distance it is used for some local traffic east of those towns. The other towns are small and almost all are not directly on the parkway and you would have to drive on small roads to get to the parkway. Since most of it is in the national forests, it is not like people are using it to go from one town to another for work, school or shopping since there are faster and more direct roads to other towns. It is primary used for people taking a scenic drive and also for people to access outdoor activities. The reason for the large numbers is that it is almost 500 miles long and is less than 4 hours from D.C. and some other major cities.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/2013 10:18AM by parklover.
avatar Re: Top 10 Visited sites in National Park System
April 07, 2013 10:33AM
As a NC resident I can confirm what parklover just said. It's definitely neither a residential nor commuter route of any sort. It's rather out of the way for most people. It also suffers enormously due to lack of maintenance, vistas blocked by tree overgrowth, and general neglect. This park in particular has been squeezed by financial restraints over the years, which is surprising considering the number of people visiting it.
avatar Re: Top 10 Visited sites in National Park System
April 20, 2013 08:06PM
From what I heard, Blue Ridge and the GGNRA cheat. They both have large highways going through them and they count all those cars as "visitors."

GGNRA doesn't count freeway traffic. However, they do use buried road magnetrons to measure vehicle traffic. They've got various parking lots and even someone lost or using a parking lot to turn around would get counted.

I remember reading their methodology, although I can't get the NPS statistics site to work right now. I don't believe anyone simply getting on to the Golden Gate Bridge is going to be measured. However, remember that a lot of people actually use the Presidio like a city park.
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