National Park Service reports 13 million more visitors in 2023, a 4% increase

The National Park Service released visitation data for 400 of its national parks Thursday, showing an overall jump of 13 million visitors, a 4% year-over-year increase.

While NPS operates 428 national parks, only 400 record visits. A total of 325.5 million recreation visits were recorded for 2023.

This year saw five new parks start reporting visits, and the 2023 dataset is the first time a national park in Delaware reported the amount of visitors it received, agency officials said.

The most popular parks remained unchanged from 2022, with the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina coming in first with 16,757,635 recreational visits, 5.15% of the national total per the NPS data.

National parks saw 28% of the system’s visitors, national recreation welcomed 16% of the tourists, national memorials drew another 13% and national parkways brought in another 10% of visitors, agency officials said.

There were 20 NPS sites that broke visitation records in 2023, including Hawaii’s Kaloko Honokōhau National Historical Park, California’s Joshua Tree National Park, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in Idaho, and D.C’s Lincoln Memorial.

“From Kaloko Honokōhau National Historical Park in Hawai’i to Congaree National Park in South Carolina, parks are attracting more visitors each year …  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,” NPS Director Chuck Sams said in a statement.

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