WASHINGTON More than 275 million visits were recorded in America's national park system in 2007, an increase of three million visits from the previous year.
"Despite rising gas prices and the lure of electronic entertainment, this is great news," said National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar. "With all the recreation choices available, national parks still draw more visits than Major League Baseball, the National Football League, professional basketball, soccer and NASCAR combined."
Bomar credited growing interest in the National Park Service Centennial as a big reason for the upswing in the number of visits to America's national parks and monuments, national recreation areas and battlefields, national wild and scenic rivers and national seashores 20 different park categories in all.
Bomar said, "Although our centennial is not until 2016, the President, late in 2006, charged us with a 'Centennial Initiative' to make the jewels in America's crown sparkle for another century.
"We started hearing from park lovers immediately after the announcement of the National Parks Centennial Initiative," Bomar said, "And people said unequivocally that they love their parks. We heard more of the same support for parks across the United States during a series of more than 40 listening sessions that wrapped up a year ago this spring."
After a record 287 million visits in 1999, and a one-year bump attributed to the 2004 opening of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., the number of visits has been in decline. "Hopefully the 2007 figures are a permanent rebound from 2006 when had 272.6 million visits," Bomar said.
Visits to the entire National Park System
The National Park Service tracks visitation to units of the National Park System the 391 areas set aside by Congress that include more than 100 national historical parks and historic sites, 74 national monuments, 58 national parks, 28 national memorials, two dozen national battlefields and military parks, as well as national seashores, parkways, recreation areas, and national preserves.
10 Most Visited National Parks (2007)
1. Great Smoky Mountains:
2. Grand Canyon:
6. Rocky Mountain:
8. Grand Teton:
9. Cuyahoga Valley:
At 17.35 million, the Blue Ridge Parkway recorded the highest number of visits in the National Park System last year. Golden Gate National Recreation Area was second with 14.4 million visits. Gateway National Recreation Area was third at 8.8 million visits followed by Lake Mead National Recreation Area at 7.6 million visits, and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area at 4.8 million visits. While the number of visits across the National Park System varies widely, 70 units recorded one million or more visits in 2007.
Visits to the 58 National Parks
The 58 national parks were the most popular park category in 2007 with 62.3 million visits. And 19 national parks recorded one million or more visits in 2007.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park recorded 9.37 million visits in 2007, the highest number of the national parks. Grand Canyon National Park was second with 4.4 million visits while Yosemite National Park was third in visits with 3.5 million. Yellowstone National Park was fourth in visits with 3.15 million. Olympic National Park was fifth in visits with 2.99 million.
Rounding out the top 10 of national park visits are Rocky Mountain National Park, 2.89 million, Zion National Park, 2.66 million, Grand Teton National Park, 2.59 million, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 2.49 million, and Acadia National Park, 2.2 million.