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Visitation to national parks increases in 2009


Perhaps a sign of the economic times, or inspired by Ken Burns’ popular documentary series, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” 10 million more people visited national parks last year than in 2008, a 3.9% increase.

More than 285.5 million people visited national parks during 2009, close to the all-time visitation record of 287.2 million in 1987.

The most-visited national park last year was the Great Smoky Mountains. At more than 9.4 visitors, it surpassed the second- and third-most-visited parks combined (Grand Canyon, 4.3 million and Yosemite, 3.7 million).

No matter the reason, it's great to hear that both American and foreign tourists took advantage of the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the natural treasures that make up the national park system.

The top 10 most visited national parks were:

  -- Great Smoky Mountains, 9,491,437 visitors
  -- Grand Canyon, 4,348,068
  -- Yosemite, 3,737,472
  -- Yellowstone, 3,295,187
  -- Olympic, 3,276,459
  -- Rocky Mountain, 2,822,325
  -- Zion, 2,735,402
  -- Cuyahoga Valley, 2,589,288
  -- Grand Teton, 2,580,081
  -- Acadia, 2,227,698

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Winter in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Credit: National Park Service

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.