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Meet America's 3 Most-visited National Parks

Take your next vacation in one of the United States’ natural beauties

The Vacationeer
Sunset view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Few destinations are as classically American as a national park. From Yellowstone to Yosemite and beyond, national parks are home to some of the most beautiful natural sights in the United States. There are more than 400 national parks, memorials, battlefields and recreation areas to explore nationwide.

There were 60 million more visits in 2021 than in 2020, and parks expect to see record numbers of visitors this year as people head to the great outdoors for upcoming vacations.

Check out the three most-visited national parks in the U.S. — according to the National Parks Service — and experience these top destinations for yourself.

3. Golden Gate National Recreation Area

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near San Francisco, California 

Why you should go: In third place is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near San Francisco, California. In 2021, 13.7 million travelers visited this park and enjoyed views of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, there’s plenty more to do within one of the largest urban parks in the world, totaling 75,500 acres around the San Francisco Bay area. If you’re itching for a road trip along California’s Coast, check out this six-day itinerary, which includes plenty of time to explore Golden Gate Park.

Where to stay: Use your Hilton Honors™ Points to stay at Parc 55 San Francisco, a Hilton Hotel, for unforgettable views of the bay.

What to do:

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

View of the Smoky Mountains in summer, with pink wildflowers in the foreground 

Why you should go: Over 10 million visitors enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park annually and enjoy the gorgeous forest landscapes and outdoor activities, such as fishing and biking. The park preserves Southern Appalachian history — including prehistoric Paleo-Indian settlements — and conserves local species of black bears, elk and brook trout.

Where to stay: Be on the lookout for an upcoming Hilton Grand Vacations resort in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

What to do:

1. Blue Ridge Parkway

Autumn foliage and the Linn Cove Viaduct, part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most visited national park in 2021 

Why you should go: The most-visited national park in 2021 was the Blue Ridge Parkway. With 469 miles of rugged mountains, stunning views and Appalachian landscapes, it’s easy to see why so many travelers flock to America’s Favorite Drive.

Where to stay: The Blue Ridge Parkway is another great park to enjoy with a road trip, so plan your stays depending on how long you want to drive along its scenic views. Along the way, use Hilton Honors™ Points at Hilton's portfolio of brands along the way.

What to do:

  • Hike one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 360 miles of trails. Enjoy elevated views from Craggy Gardens Trail, or take Erwin's View Trail to Linville Falls.
  • Take a detour and view fall foliage along Skyline Drive in the nearby Shenandoah National Park. There are plenty of overlooks and picnic spots where you can enjoy vivid autumn leaves.
  • Time your visit to attend one of the park’s concerts and hear blue-grass Southern Appalachian music. Also, check out the Blue Ridge Music Center for an in-depth look at the roots of American music.

Read “7 Insider Tips for Exploring the National Parks, Monuments and Forests of the Western United States” for ways to make the most of your national park getaway.

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Vacationeer

The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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