The U.S National Park Service has revealed its most-visited sites of 2020 – and it’s the Blue Ridge Parkway that comes out on top.
The 469-mile ribbon of road that runs through stunning scenery in North Carolina and Virginia, and has magnificent views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, welcomed 14.1million visitors last year.
It beats the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is second with 12.4million visitors, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina and Tennessee border, which is third with 12.1million visitors.
The U.S National Park Service has revealed its most-visited sites of 2020 – and it’s the Blue Ridge Parkway, pictured, that comes out on top. It welcomed 14.1million visitors last year
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE VISITOR NUMBERS 2020
Most visited National Park Service sites in 2020
1. Blue Ridge Parkway – 14.1million visitors
2. Golden Gate National Recreation Area – 12.4million
3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 12.1million
4. Gateway National Recreation Area – 8.4million
5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area – 8million
6. George Washington Memorial Parkway – 6.2million
7. Natchez Trace Parkway – 6.1million
8. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park – 4.9million
9. Cape Cod National Seashore – 4.1million
10. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area – 4.1 million
Most visited national parks in 2020
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 12.1million visitors.
2. Yellowstone National Park – 3.8million visitors
3. Zion National Park – 3.6million visitors
4. Rocky Mountain National Park – 3.3million
5. Grand Teton National Park – 3.3million
6. Grand Canyon National Park – 2.9million
7. Cuyahoga Valley National Park – 2.8million
8. Acadia National Park – 2.7million
9. Olympic National Park – 2.5million
10. Joshua Tree National Park – 2.4million
Source: National Park Service
In fourth place on the list is the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City and New Jersey, which saw 8.4million visitors, and the fifth-most-visited site is Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada and Arizona, which had eight million visitors.
The George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia is sixth with 6.2million visitors and seventh is Natchez Trace Parkway, which stretches through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, with 6.1million visitors.
Also making the top ten are Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (eighth, 4.9million), Cape Cod National Seashore (ninth, 4.1million) and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (10th, 4.1million).
The National Park Service also released a separate list of the top 10 most-visited national parks in 2020.
Topping the list is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which also features in the top 10 most-visited National Park Service sites ranking.
It is followed in second place by Yellowstone National Park, which is located across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho and welcomed 3.8million visitors last year.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area was the second-most-visited National Park Service site in 2020, with 12.4million visitors. Pictured is Baker Beach, which is part of the area
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee had 12.1million visitors in 2020. It comes third overall and was the most-visited national park
In fourth place is the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City and New Jersey, which saw 8.4million visitors
In third place is Utah’s Zion National Park with 3.6million visitors, fourth is Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado with 3.3million visitors and Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park is fifth – also on 3.3million visitors.
The rest of the top 10 is made up of Grand Canyon National Park (sixth, 2.9million), Cuyahoga Valley National Park (seventh, 2.8million), Acadia National Park (eighth, 2.7 million), Olympic National Park (ninth, 2.5 million) and Joshua Tree National Park (10th, 2.4million).
In total, there were 237million visits to National Park Service sites across the U.S in 2020 – down 28 per cent compared to 2019 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Yellowstone National Park received 3.8million visitors in 2020 making it the second-most-visited national park last year. Pictured is the park’s Grand Prismatic Spring
Zion National Park in Utah, pictured, had 3.6million visitors in 2020 making it the third-most-visited national park in the U.S last year
However, the National Park Service points out that although ‘overall visitation dropped, a number of parks experienced record crowds and welcomed new visitors’.
It added: ‘Trails, overlooks and open spaces provided safe ways for visitors to recreate responsibly, get some fresh air and stay active.’
National Park Service deputy director Shawn Benge said: ‘This past year has reminded us how important national parks and public lands are to overall wellbeing.
‘Throughout the country, national parks provided close-to-home opportunities for people to spend much needed time outdoors for their physical and psychological health.’