For National Parks Week, Travel Lemming analyzed data to rank all 63 US national parks. The youngest national park in the country fared impressively, ranking higher than iconic national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Zion.
In celebration of National Parks week, Travel Lemming released a data-backed ranking of all 63 US national parks. New River Gorge in West Virginia ranks as the #16 overall best national park in the USA, also ranking among the most biodiverse and best-reviewed parks in the country.
Travel Lemming’s national parks ranking is based on an analysis of data scoring each park across six factors: affordability, accessibility, biodiversity, crowds, reviews, and weather.
The report revealed the following insights regarding New River Gorge National Park:
• New River Gorge National Park ranks 4th in biodiversity, offering visitors a rich variety of plant and animal species to discover.
• Despite being a top 20 park, New River Gorge National Park ranks 61st in terms of crowds, the 3rd most visitor-dense park in the USA.
• New River Gorge’s 9th-place ranking in reviews showcases its favorable light among visitors.
Iconic national parks fared worse in the data, largely due to crowds and affordability. Yellowstone National Park was ranked 23rd, Zion National Park was ranked in position 26, and Yosemite National Park in the 34th slot.
Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains is the most biodiverse park, North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt the most affordable, Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic the least crowded, and Missouri’s Gateway Arch the most accessible.
Shenandoah National Park ranks first overall, with exceptional scores in affordability, accessibility, and biodiversity.
The most famous national parks fared surprisingly poorly in the data, largely due to the crowds and affordability factors. Grand Canyon National Park was ranked #15, Yellowstone National Park at position #23, and Yosemite National Park at slot #34.
National Parks were ranked on six factors, based on the following data:
Crowds – Number of visits per acre of park land in 2022. (Sources: NPS 2022 Recreation Visit Data, Wikipedia Acreage Data)
Reviews – Average visitor review score out of 5. (Sources: Google Maps, Yelp, TripAdvisor)
Weather – Number of months with a comfortable average temperature, defined as between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. (Source: NOAA NECI US Climate Normals)
Affordability – Average nightly cost of a nearby quality hotel room during the first weekend of the park’s most popular month. (Sources: Booking, Google Travel, Hotel Websites)
Accessibility – Average of driving distance to the park from the closest FAA Primary Airport and from the closest hub airport. (Sources: FAA, Google Maps Driving Distance, Wikipedia Major US Airports)
Biodiversity – Number of species deemed “present or probably present.” (Source: NPS Species List)
Overall rankings were determined by each park’s average ranking across all factors. Further details are available in the report’s methodology section.
Travel Lemming is an online travel guide with more than 10 million annual readers. It is known for highlighting emerging and lesser-known destinations, and for the authentic guides produced by its team of dozens of local and expert travel creators.
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