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What is the most visited national park in the US? Answers to your biggest park questions

Most people have heard of or , but how about the largest national park? Or which gets the most visitors each year? 

ӣƵ rounded up answers to the most popular park questions to help travelers better understand these national treasures and share some fun trivia with family and friends on their next park visit.

Here are 10 things to know about America’s national parks.

What is the most visited national park in the US? 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is full of tranquil spaces like Little River Trail.

Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in America, by far. Last year, it drew nearly three times the visitors as the second-most visited park, Grand Canyon, according to .

These were the 15 most visited national parks in 2023:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee - 13,297,647
  2. Grand Canyon in Arizona - 4,733,705
  3. Zion in Utah - 4,623,238
  4. Yellowstone in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming - 4,501,382
  5. Rocky Mountain in Colorado - 4,115,837
  6. Yosemite in California - 3,897,070
  7. Acadia in Maine - 3,879,890
  8. Grand Teton in Wyoming - 3,417,106
  9. Joshua Tree in California  - 3,270,404
  10. Olympic National Park in Washington - 2,947,503
  11. Glacier National Park in Montana - 2,933,616
  12. Cuyahoga Valley in Ohio - 2,860,059
  13. Indiana Dunes in Indiana - 2,765,892
  14. Hot Springs in Arkansas - 2,502,967
  15. Bryce Canyon in Utah - 2,461,269

The least visited national park is Gates of the Arctic in Alaska, which drew 11,045 visitors last year even though there are no roads to get there.“Even for Alaska, Gates of the Arctic is sort of above all the rest in terms of difficulty of reaching it, solitude, remoteness,” Peter Christian, chief spokesperson for Public Affairs for the National Park Service’s Alaska region, previously told ӣƵ.  

'Finding hidden gems':America's least visited national parks

What are the big 3 national parks?

When people think of national parks, three loom large in many minds: Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite. 

However, they’re neither the three most visited national parks nor the largest in size. 

What is the largest US national park?

In addition to being America's largest national park, the National Park Service says Wrangell-St.Elias "has the continent’s largest assemblage of glaciers and the greatest collection of peaks above 16,000 feet, including Mount St. Elias."

Wrangell-St. Elias is the biggest of all. It’s more than three times the size of Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks combined. 

The three biggest national parks are all in Alaska:

  1. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve - 13.2 million acres
  2. Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve - nearly 8.5 million acres
  3. Denali National Park & Preserve - more than 4.7 million acres

The smallest national park is Gateway Arch in Missouri, at roughly 91 acres.

What is the newest national park?

New River Gorge, in West Virginia, became America’s newest national park in December 2020.

It was previously designated a national river. 

Story continues below.

How many national parks are in the US?

There are 63 national parks across the country, including two in U.S. territories.

ӣƵ has been spotlighting each one in a yearlong series that shares insights and tips from the park rangers who know them best.

Has anyone been to all 63 national parks?

Yes. Multiple people have accomplished this bucket list feat, including Stefanie Payne, who visited all 63 parks within one year and wrote about them in "."

“The Alaska parks are the ones that are deepest in my heart because they are in such a remote and rugged landscape,” she previously told ӣƵ. “It's really just mind-bending to be in some of those areas, especially when the mountains are so big and the glaciers and the terrain is really challenging and you start to see what you're made of.”

Hikers look out at Bryce Canyon's Wall of Windows.

What state has the best national parks?

Many national parks fans point to Utah’s Mighty Five: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion, but best is subjective. 

“I'm sure every park is like, ‘Everywhere is the best.’ It's all so good, right?” Petrified Forest National Park park ranger Jessica Barnett told ӣƵ.

Which state has the most number of national parks?

California has the most national parks, with nine: Channel Islands, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Kings Canyon, Lassen Volcanic, Pinnacles, Redwood, Sequoia, and Yosemite.

Death Valley actually straddles California and Nevada. A number of America’s national parks span multiple states.

Death Valley is an International Dark Sky Park. Ranger Abby Wines notes it's a great place to see the Milky Way.

What state has no national park? 

There are no national parks in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont or Wisconsin.

However, all 50 states are home to other , like national battlefields and seashores, which are sometimes called parks.

The National Park System currently has 429 units. The most recent addition is Amanche National Historic Site in Colorado. Travelers can find sites by state on the .

What is a national park a park for? 

When Yellowstone became America’s in 1872, it “a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” but national parks have come to offer and protect much more.

“The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations,” according the shared on its website. 

To help protect these spaces, visitors are asked to leave no trace.

Contributing: Bailey Schulz, ӣƵ

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