These were the most camped at National Parks in 2023

In 2023, 2.2 million people tent camped at National Parks throughout the United States. However, the number is likely higher, considering some National Parks’ data is not included or far fewer than otherwise should be.

The overall number is down slightly from 2022’s 2.38 million campers and down 400,000 or 16% from 2019.

Another 1.5 million individuals used RVs to stay overnight as well.

It shows a strong appetite for those looking to connect with nature at a deeper level at our National Parks. Plus, it shows that many people seek a more affordable way to spend their time off.

The top 10 most camped at National Parks in 2023

These are tent camping figures.

10: Death Valley National Park – 71,963
9: Zion National Park – 100,411
8: Acadia National Park – 120,615

7: Olympic National Park – 121,314
6: Shenandoah National Park – 122,031
5: Glacier National Park – 132,219

4: Grand Canyon National Park – 159,019
3: Joshua Tree National Park – 200,056
2: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 207,070

1: Yosemite National Park – 275,278

Half dome with blue sky above it. waterfalls are visible to the right.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

The rest of the rankings of most camped at National Parks

How many people visited the National parks in 2023
The 10 most popular National Parks
The least visited National Parks

the zion narrows in utah
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch/@alecoutside

Statistical Irregularities for Camping at the National Park

While I don’t distrust these numbers, I think they need to be taken with a grain of salt. For one, you’ll notice Grand Teton National Park way down at the bottom below Glacier Bay National Park.

There is almost zero chance an Alaskan National Park that saw 2.7M fewer visitors (and most of them via cruise ship) out-camped a destination with half a dozen campgrounds.

You’ll also notice that 19 National Parks are not shown here, including Denali, which has multiple campgrounds.

It’s a mystery to me why locations with campgrounds are not included.

Most camped at National Parks: What the Data Shows

People love Yosemite

Yosemite‘s ranking as number one isn’t a big surprise. Getting a camping spot is an epic achievement, as there are only a few hotels inside the park, and the rest of the lodging is a 30-40-minute drive at best. If you’re trying to limit your drive time and don’t want to spend hundreds per night, camping is the way to go.

That said, data shows that Yosemite National Park saw 75,000 fewer campers in 2023 than in 2022. Looking further back, Yosemite had almost 470,000 campers in 2019, which was 17% of the total campers in US National Parks, while they were only at 12.5% in 2023.

If you go to Great Basin, odds are you’re camping

Great Basin National Park is out there. Because of that, there’s not a lot of camping nearby, so you’ll likely camp. While Great Basin was 54th in total visitation, it was 19th in camping. That’s around 17% of visitors who camped.

the milky way viewed from great basin national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

If you want better odds, visit less crowded national parks

Trying to camp in the National Parks is hard now. It wasn’t like that in the past. But if you want to improve your chances of landing a camping spot, head to the less visited spots, and you’ll surely increase your odds.

The most significant changes were…

In year-over-year data, Kings Canyon saw the most significant drop, going from 7th overall in 2022 with 111,000 to 15th and only 49,000 campers. Sequoia also saw a nearly 50% drop. I’m curious if recent wildfires had anything to do with this drop.

On the other hand, the biggest jumps for campers were the Grand Canyon and Glacier, where they jumped approximately 70,000 and 40,000 feet, respectively.

Still not at pre-pandemic levels

Looking back at the 2019 data, we have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. In that year, 2.62 million people camped at National Parks. We’re only at 84% of those levels, though 2022 was a bit closer to 91%.

two big horned sheep look out
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside