The Top 15 States To Visit For National Park Visits

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This article first appeared on Outdoorsy.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are taking to the roads because air travel is limited.Exploring the outdoors, assuming local regulations allow it, can be a fun and safe way to vacation.Fortunately, many parks in the National Park System remain open, albeit with fewer visitors than in a typical year.

The National Park Service (NPS) is in charge of the National Park System, which includes 422 parks spanning over 80 million acres in all 50 states.

While recreational areas, parkways, and national parks are among the most popular, the National Park System encompasses a wide range of park types, including monuments, memorials, battlefields, and historic sites.In fact, visits to the 62 national parks account for less than a third of all annual visits.

The number of visitors to the National Park System fell by nearly 25% in 2021.Outdoor recreation and visiting these areas, even with social distancing orders in place, can be a COVID-safe activity.

Outdoorsy looked at data from the National Park Service’s National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics to find the states with the best access to the National Park System.They ranked states according to the number of National Park Service-managed parks that are partially or completely contained within the state.They also included the number of annual visits to NPS parks in each state as a measure of the economic benefit from NPS park tourism, as well as the name of each state’s most visited park.

The states with the best access to the National Park System are listed below.

Tennessee is a state in the United States

Tennessee

Shutterstock Alexander Narraina

  • 12 National Park Service parks
  • Annual visitors to National Park Service (NPS) parks: 9979139
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates $995900000 in revenue.
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park (7026734) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Colorado is a state in the United States

Grand Lake, Colorado

Shutterstock photo by marekuliasz

  • 13 National Park Service (NPS) parks
  • 7761213 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • 771700000 dollars in economic benefit from NPS park tourism
  • Rocky Mountain National Park (4670053) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Utah

Woman hiking in Zion National Park

Shutterstock EB Adventure Photography

  • 13 National Park Service (NPS) parks
  • The number of people who visit NPS parks each year is 15285200.
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 1868700000 dollars in revenue.
  • Zion National Park (4488268) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Texas is a state in the United States

Port Arthur Texas

Shutterstock/Matias Wilson

  • 14 National Park Service (NPS) parks
  • Annual visitors to National Park Service (NPS) parks: 5834681
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 492000000 dollars in revenue.
  • Lake Meredith NRA (1328340) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

New Mexico is located in the United States.

Elephant Butte Lake

Shutterstock/Judd Irish Bradley

  • 15 National Park Service (NPS) parks
  • 2139674 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 155000000 dollars in revenue.
  • White Sands National Monument (608785) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Washington, D.C.

Washington

Shutterstock photo by vagabond54

  • 15 National Park Service (NPS) parks
  • 8776096 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates $709800000 in revenue.
  • Olympic National Park (3245806) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Massachusetts is a state in the United States

Lighthouse in Massachusetts

Shutterstock Newcastle

  • 15 National Park Service (NPS) parks
  • 10003220 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 1285400000 dollars in revenue.
  • Cape Cod NS (4096104) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Maryland is a state in the United States

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park

Shutterstock/KhanIM

  • Number of National Park Service (NPS) parks: 18
  • 6854872 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 312800000 dollars in revenue.
  • Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP (3888758) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Pennsylvania is a state in the United States

Pennsylvania

Shutterstock’s front page

  • Number of National Park Service (NPS) parks: 19
  • 10153809 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 711300000 dollars in revenue.
  • Independence NHP (4532459) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Arizona is a state in the United States

Arizona

Shutterstock/Bryan Neuswanger

  • The number of National Park Service parks is 22.
  • 12463772 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Benefits to the economy from NPS park tourism 2015900000
  • Grand Canyon National Park (5974411) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Virginia (Virginia)

Man looking at mountains

Shutterstock/Kristi Blokhin

  • The number of National Park Service parks is 22.
  • 22815596 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 1669100000 dollars in revenue.
  • George Washington MEM PKWY (7487265) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Woman on a bike

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Alaska is a state in the United States

Alaska's Denali National Park

Shutterstock/Martina Birnbaum

  • The number of National Park Service parks is 24.
  • 3218301 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates $2192900000 in revenue.
  • Klondike Gold Rush NHP (1116161) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

New York is a city in the United States.

Lake Placid

Shutterstock/Alexey Smolyanyy

  • The number of National Park Service parks is 24.
  • 21013245 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 1060200000 dollars in revenue.
  • Gateway NRA (7803348) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

The District of Columbia is located in the United States of America.

Washington, D.C.

Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

  • The number of National Park Service (NPS) parks is 25.
  • Annual visitors to National Park Service (NPS) parks: 39687383
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 830700000 dollars in revenue.
  • Lincoln Memorial (7808182) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

California is a state in the United States

The Pacific Crest Trail near Silverwood Lake in San Bernardino County, California

Shutterstock Gestalt Imagery

  • The number of National Park Service parks is 28.
  • 39620672 annual visitors to NPS parks
  • Tourism at NPS parks generates 4276200000 dollars in revenue.
  • Golden Gate NRA (15002227) is the most visited NPS park (in terms of visits).

Methodology and findings in detail

Man studying data on his computer

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The National Park Service (NPS) National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics provided the data for this study.All 422 NPS-managed parks are included in the study, which includes 19 different park types such as national parks, national battlefields, national monuments, national memorials, national historic sites, and national parkways, among others.

The number of National Park Service parks that are partially or completely contained within a state was used to rank the states.A few parks are listed in more than one state.In the event of a tie, the state with the most annual recreation visitors to its NPS parks received the higher ranking.The total estimated value of goods and services produced as a result of NPS visitor spending is referred to as the economic benefit from NPS park tourism.The sum of all intermediate sales (business to business) and final demand (sales to consumers and exports) determines economic output.

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