NPS Visitation Numbers Show Yosemite Isn’t Northern California’s Most Popular National Park

Muir Woods is within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Photo by Caleb Jones.

The National Park Service released its 2021 visitation numbers, which reveal the national parks in Northern California that receive the most traffic. Guess what? Yosemite National Park isn’t the most visited park in NorCal.

In the second year of the pandemic, some of the most well-known national parks had record visitation in 2021, but the total number of national park visitors fell below pre-pandemic numbers. That didn’t impact the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which was the third most visited national park in the country with 13.7 million visitors.

Yosemite National Park, which is always considered the most popular in California, fell all the way down to the 21st most visited national park with just 3.3 million visitors. For reference, Yosemite had over 4 million visitors in 2019.

The Golden Gate NRA, which includes Muir Woods, Alcatraz and Chrissy Field, is most popular for the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. It has been in the top 3 of the NPS visitation list every year since 1978.

To avoid crowds while visiting national parks, the NPS recommends visiting clusters of less-crowded parks near each other. A visit to Redwoods State and National Parks offers a great opportunity to explore Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, and Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California


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