Arguably the best idea America ever had was the national parks system. More than 300 million people visit every year, pouring over $35 billion into the national economy. You should be one of them! Many parks offer free entrance days -- for some, every single day is a free entrance day -- and if you want to go all out, an $80 annual pass gets you and a friend unlimited access to all the national parks for the entire year.
But which park to visit? There are currently 62 national parks in America. To help narrow the playing field, we have thusly ranked what are, per the National Parks Service’s 2018 data (the most recent available), the 25 most-visited. Spreadsheets were involved!
Now, it should be noted that America’s least-visited national parks are often the least-visited not because they are uncool, but because they are geographically inconvenient for most Americans to reach -- like 2018’s least-visited park, northern Alaska's decidedly kick-ass Gate of the Arctic. By the same token, Great Smoky Mountains wins “most-visited” year after year on a technicality: basically, people have to drive through it a lot just to get from Point A to Point B (still, it's a lot more gorgeous than your average highway by a longshot). But while it is widely known that there is nothing journalists love more than to put things in numerical order according to how good they are, we do not love it enough to do 62 things. We will be doing 25 things.
Did we rank these 25 parks according to their uniqueness, or photogenicness, or diversity of flora and fauna, or level of adventure contained therein? Yes. A little personal bias? Of course. But we're confident we properly ranked them from great to best. Let’s begin.