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More NPS Travelers Enjoying Lesser-Known Parks, Off-Season Visits

Published on February 23rd, 2024 by Kristopher Bunker

The National Park Service (NPS) has announced that 400 parks reported a total of 325.5 million recreational national park visits in 2023. That marks an increase over 2022 in national park visits of 13 million (4%) happy campers. 

A camper van and pop-up trailer enjoying a national park visit at Colorado Great Sand Dunes NP.

But the overall increase in national park visits isn’t the only news here. The Visitation Statistics Dashboard on the NPS website shows that national park visits are increasing in the more traditional off-seasons at many parks. That meant more national park visits in the spring and fall than in years past. And 20 parks—many of them lesser-known gems—broke visitation records in 2023. 

“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.” 

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20 Parks That Broke Visitation 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 

Visitation figures and trends guide how the National Park Service manages parks to ensure the best experience possible for national park visits. The Visitation Statistics Dashboard provides recreational national park visit statistics for every park in the US for 2023 and also for previous years, dating back to 1979 for some parks. Of the 429 parks in the National Park System, 400 parks counted visitors in 2023. For the first time, there are now parks reporting their visitation numbers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four US territories.

Natural disasters and increasingly severe weather events also affected national park visits at some parks. Parks that were impacted include:

  • Death Valley National Park was entirely closed August 20 until October 15 due to flood damage.
  • Much of the Chilkoot Trail at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Alaska was closed due to flooding in 2023.
  • Haleakalā National Park closed the Summit and Kīpahulu districts from August 8 until August 25 due to wildland fires and high winds.

Hit The Road

To plan your next national park visit, look no further than RV LIFE Campgrounds and RV LIFE Trip Wizard. Campground Reviews is a trusted source of campground and RV park reviews offered by camping and RV enthusiasts like you. Coupled with the RV LIFE App, RV Trip Wizard will get you to your next national park destination utilizing RV-friendly routes specific to your RV and travel preferences.

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