325 million people visited the National Park Service sites in 2023

The National Park Service (NPS) announced a significant increase in recreational visits for 2023, with 325.5 million visitors, marking a 4% rise from the previous year. This increase translates to an additional 13 million visits, underscoring a growing trend of interest and engagement in national parks nationwide.

Of that 325 million, 92 million were to National Parks, accounting for 28% of visitors. That number is also a record for National Park sites.

“From Kaloko Honokōhau National Historic Park in Hawai’i to Congaree National Park in South Carolina, parks are attracting more visitors each year to learn about our shared history,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said

“Our national parks tell our shared American story. I’m glad visitors are finding hidden gems, exploring in the off-season and finding new ways to have a great time in our national parks.”

The top 10 most visited National Parks in 2023

Spending more time in nature

Visitor hours also saw an uptick, reaching 1.4 billion in 2023, a 4% increase compared to 2022. This suggests that visitors are not only flocking to parks in higher numbers but are also spending more time exploring the vast natural and historical landscapes the parks offer.

Despite the overall positive trend, the data showed mixed results in overnight stays within the parks. While there was a 5% increase in the usage of concession-operated lodging, indicating a demand for in-park accommodations, other overnight stay statistics slightly declined.

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch, Rocky Mountain National Park

New Milestones for the NPS

In a milestone for the NPS, 400 out of 428 National Park System units reported visitor statistics in 2023. The year also marked the inclusion of five new parks into the reporting system, with Delaware seeing a park included in the count for the first time.

Notably, 20 parks set records for annual visits, and an additional 15 surpassed significant visitation milestones, highlighting the parks’ enduring appeal and the public’s increasing desire to connect with nature.

Credit: NPS

Trendline Normalizing

The recent trends indicate a normalization in visitation patterns following the pandemic, with visitation figures returning to more typical levels observed in the years leading up to the NPS Centennial in 2016.

While the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 saw disruptions in visitation patterns, the NPS reports that the current trends not only resemble those seen before the centennial but also show that the overall level of visitation has significantly risen.

Credit: NPS

This resurgence in interest in national parks suggests a robust public appetite for natural and cultural experiences, highlighting the importance of the National Park System as a cornerstone of American heritage and environmental conservation.

As visitation patterns stabilize post-pandemic, the NPS continues to welcome a growing number of visitors, reflecting a return to more routine variability and an overall heightened level of engagement with the nation’s parks.

a gorgous sunset with a waterfall on the right and granite rocks in the horizon.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch, Yosemite National Park

The Most Visited NPS Sites

These are the top 30 visited NPS sites in 2023. View the entire list here.

New records for individual parks

The following places set new records for their own area.

  • Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
  • Congaree National Park
  • Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve
  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
  • John Muir National Historic Site
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Kaloko Honokōhau National Historic Park
  • Keweenaw National Historic Park
  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site
  • Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park
  • Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Memorial
  • Minidoka National Historic Site
  • Mojave National Preserve
  • New River Gorge National Park & Preserve
  • Nez Perce National Historic Park
  • Ninety Six National Historic Site  
denali national park camping

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 ExploreWithAlec.com. 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