Have you ever filled out a visitor survey card at a U.S. national park? Your efforts aren’t in vain. A recent compilation of results led to rankings by visitors of the most popular national parks throughout the nation. The rankings in this survey were based on those who rated “Very Good” to the question: “Overall quality of the facilities, services & recreational opportunities.” Here are the Top 10 in order of preference.
Top 10 topper
Topping the list, West Virginia takes the honors, showcasing the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Of all national parks in the system, nearly 88% checked this park of stunning views with “Very Good.”
Go bats in New Mexico
If you’re bats about caves, you’ll be pleased to hear New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park took away an 86.4% vote for overall quality. It’s not just one big cave. If you haven’t been there, you may be shocked to learn the park has a network of 119 caves.
Third of Top Ten surprised us
This one caught your writers off guard. Head on out to the Oregon coast and third-ranked Lewis and Clark National Historic Park took an 86.1% run of the vote. History buffs will learn more about the indigenous people, as well as the historic explorers, and the long winter they and their men spent there, way back in history. If you’re not into history, you’ll appreciate nearby costal scenery.
Millions of people visit Maine
In a respectable fourth place, Acadia National Park in Maine took an 82.02% vote rate when asked about overall quality. This 47,000-acre national park along the Maine coast is one of the most visited national parks in the U.S., with more than four million people visiting each year.
You won’t drive to this one
Go north to find the fifth place ranker. Alaska is home to Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. You won’t be driving your motorhome there, however. The park is the northernmost national park in the United States, situated entirely north of the Arctic Circle. Fly in or hike in, strenuous visitors gave it an 85.95% approval rating for overall quality.
In the Top Ten—with bottom land
Would you like to know more about wood—the living kind? Then 6th placed Congaree National Park is your spot. At nearly 27,000 acres in size, this park is the place where you’ll find the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the country. It also boasts a “Very Good” response rate for overall quality of 85.05%.
These don’t belong to McDonald’s
Arches National Park in Utah takes the seventh place with a “Very Good” overall quality response rate of 84.38%. With the Colorado River to the southeast, Arches is the site of more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Think of the massive, red-hued Delicate Arch in the east. Long, thin Landscape Arch stands in Devils Garden to the north. Not an arch, but a magnificent piece of archeology, Balanced Rock, towers over the desert landscape in the middle of the park.
Not wrangling over placement in the Top 10
In eighth place is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. One of America’s “newer parks,” designated in 1980, you can drive in. However, there are only two roads that go in. Both are gravel roads that are owned and maintained by the state of Alaska and not the National Park Service. Look to use them in summer months. This Alaska national park has a “Very Good” response rate for overall quality of 83.86%.
Smokies get in your eyes
Straddled across Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses lush forests and an abundance of wildflowers that bloom year-round. Streams, rivers and waterfalls appear along hiking routes that include a segment of the Appalachian Trail. Mist-covered mountains give the park it’s name, and it grabs the ninth spot on the list with a “Very Good” response rate of 83.09% for overall quality.
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming rounds off the list in tenth place. A massive 310,000-acre park, it hosts the major peaks of the 40-mile-long Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole. Visitors are only 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park. Counting surrounding national forests, these areas constitute the almost 18-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the world’s largest intact mid-latitude temperate ecosystems. Grand Teton received a “Very Good” response rate of 83.06%.
Results of the Top 10 visitor information came from a study by CasinoBonusCA.
Maybe a follow up poll should be do you fill out these cards at NP? Some people will complain about anything.
Statistical manipulation can be wrongly used to get biased and wrong results. One of the biggest disadvantages of numbers/statistics is that it can be manipulated easily to prove wrong results. That’s why the reader should always find a minimum of three (3) sources when working with the sensitive stats.
Have a very tough time digesting this “poll.” What about Yellowstone and Yosemite.
As Mark Twain said, “There are lies, da*n lies, and statistics…” This opinion poll falls in the “statistics” category, IMO.
Agree. I am very surprised that Ft. Clatsop, which we have visited multiple times since we love history and often go to Ft. Stevens SP, would begin to be compared to the Grand Tetons, Arches, Grand Canyon (north and south) Zion, Bryce, Yellowstone, etc. I can only suppose that the massive number of visitors at the famous parks skewed the survey.
As a mountain climber, simple day trekker/packer and blanket on the ground stargazer, I want to be humble and ask how the percentages were added up?
I used to live buried in the Rockies where I could “walk” into the Rocky Mtn Natl Park as my backyard. Now I live in the Smokies where I can “DRIVE into” the Smokies Natl Park. Most of the parks listed with the exception of a few can be DRIVEN into, photos taken, and leave never truly “experiencing” the park except from a vehicle.
Since I live in the Smokies, I can attest to the comments most visitors express about the overcrowding from foot path to auto and RV traffic. For anyone visiting the 9th ranked park, be advised that it’s small and challenged by foot trails (the AT trail) but unfortunately NOT needed due to parking lots and roads leading to most of the photographic locations or sites. Cades Cove is a great example.
My point is, how different would this be if vehicles were taken out of the equation?
Yeah, most people must not be filling out those cards. I’m sure if you polled the country about which parks are best it wouldn’t look like this.
Arches NP trails were practically shoulder to shoulder last time I was there eight years ago. I have no desire to visit it again. They charter bus in tourists 30 to 40 at a time, usually from other countries, and run around snapping photos like it’s Disneyland or something. Just not my thing. Oh and Jackson Lake near Teton campground? Look out for leeches!
Thank you! I like knowing which national parks are popular. Knowing this helps me avoid crowds. I grew up too remotely to be able to enjoy things and places full of people.
Nope don’t agree, Grand Teton was nice but Yellowstone was much nicer or even Yosemite
Rick, I agree with you! I spend 6 days in Yellowstone for every one day at Grand Teton!
Are you serious? Is the AI robot broken? This is a mangled mess if ever I saw one.
Been to 6 of the 10. Interesting set of 10; not what I had expected would have listed.