The New National Park Visitor Numbers Highlight a Very Busy Outdoors

The new national park visitor numbers are in. The National Park Service says in 2023, 325.5 million people visited an NPS site, including national parks, national historic sites, and more. In fact, last year saw an increase of 4%, or about 13 million visitors from 2022.

According to the official press release, while most parks saw steady crowds from past years or a slight increase, 20 parks set records for visitation. Even more surprising, many of those NPS sites are not one of the 63 national parks or include lesser-known parks.

These numbers are good news for everyone as they show people are spreading out to more parks and exploring less well-known destinations. 

“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 National Park Service manages more than 85 million acres of land, so there are plenty of new parks and sites to explore. 

Record-Setting National Park Service Destinations

Kelso Dunes in Mojave National Preserve. (Source: Matt Artz)

Here are the 20 NPS destinations that set records in 2023:

  • 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  

The NPS says despite these good national park visitor numbers, there were some struggles this year. Natural disasters caused headaches for many parks in 2023. Popular destinations like Death Valley National Park closed for long stretches last year after flooding tore up roadways.

What park are you hoping to visit in 2024?

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