In 2016, 331 million people visited U.S. national parks, more than ever before. This is the third year in a row with record-breaking attendance at national parks.
The country’s two most popular park units are in the Southeast. The Blue Ridge Parkway had 15.1 million visitors in 2016, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park recorded 11.3 million people visiting last year.
About 50 percent of visits were recorded in just 26 national parks. These parks saw a 10 percent increase from last year.
“Our National Parks are our national treasures, and it’s important to recognize that they are more than just beautiful landscapes,” said U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke this past Friday while visiting Glacier National Park in Montana.
Zinke was sworn in as Secretary of the Interior on March 1 and grew up outside of Glacier National Park. Zinke said he understands the importance of these parks to the American people and that they should be preserved for future generations.