National park tourism in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

National parks are areas of land protected by the government, often chosen for their natural beauty and ecology. In the United States, 59 sites known as national parks are operated by the National Park Service. National parks attract millions of visitors each year owing to their vast capacity for outdoor recreation - an estimated 331 million people visited national parks in the U.S. in 2017. They are among the most popular types of destinations for U.S. campers, along with state parks and beaches. Around 40 million people go on camping trips in the U.S. each year.

The second most visited national park in the U.S. is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Containing 82,027 acres of ecologically and historically significant landscapes surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area was chartered as a national park by U.S. Congress in 1972 and now welcomes around 15 million visitors per year. The park is popular among hikers, another favorite outdoor activity in which almost 45 million Americans participate annually. Other most visited national parks include the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and the first national park in the U.S., Yellowstone, which was established in 1872.

National park tourism benefits both the national and local economies. In 2017, national park visitor spending reached over 17 billion U.S. dollars – around 30 percent of this was spent on accommodation and 20 percent in restaurants and bars.



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National park tourism in the U.S.

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Outdoor participation

Nature and outdoor vacations

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