National Parks Week Surprise: Hidden Gems Outshine Iconic Parks in New Ranking

For National Parks Week, Travel Lemming analyzed data to rank all 63 US national parks. Lesser-known parks topped the list, while famous parks fell short.

DENVER, April 27, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — To celebrate National Parks Week, Travel Lemming released a data-backed ranking of all 63 US national parks. The report finds lesser-known parks outperforming traditional favorites, with Yellowstone National Park falling to position #23.

Offering a fresh perspective on America’s natural treasures, Travel Lemming’s USA national parks ranking assesses each park across six factors: affordability, accessibility, biodiversity, crowds, reviews, and weather.

The following are key takeaways from the report:

  • Shenandoah National Park ranks #1 overall, with exceptional scores in affordability, accessibility, and biodiversity.
  • Several lesser-known parks rank in the top 20, challenging conventional ideas of the top US national parks.
  • Iconic national parks fared worse in the data, largely due to crowds and affordability. Grand Canyon National Park was ranked #15, Yellowstone National Park at position #23, and Yosemite National Park at slot #34.
  • 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.

The top 10 national parks in the USA according to the data are:


National Park Name



Shenandoah National Park



North Cascades National Park



Biscayne National Park


4 (tie)

Kings Canyon National Park


4 (tie)

Sequoia National Park



Everglades National Park



Big Bend National Park



Mammoth Cave National Park



Death Valley National Park



Channel Islands National Park


The full ranking can be found at:

Travel Lemming Senior Travel Writer McKenna Mobley commented: “I have traveled the world, and can confidently say that the USA national parks are unparalleled, making them one of my all-time favorite travel destinations. Every US national park offers its own special flair, so in some sense ranking them is like ranking music genres — they’re all good!”

“However, I hope this report highlights the fact that some of America’s less famous parks offer far more than what meets the eye. Sometimes the best experiences can be found at hidden park gems that are off the lemming path.”


To ensure a comprehensive data-driven approach, all 63 parks were assessed by the following factors:

  • Crowds – 2022 recreation visits per acre of park land
  • Reviews – average visitor ratings
  • Weather – months with average temperature between 50 and 90 degrees
  • Affordability – average cost of nearby hotels
  • Accessibility – driving distance to the closest airports
  • Biodiversity – number of species

The report’s methodology section contains details and sources.

Images and a spreadsheet of ranking data can be accessed in Travel Lemming’s media kit.

About Travel Lemming

Travel Lemming publishes practical guides written by locals and experts, which more than 10 million Americans read annually.

Press Contact: Taylor Herperger

SOURCE Travel Lemming