15 Most Visited National Parks In 2016

Spending time in the wilderness is one of the best ways to cope better with stress, feel happier and have more self-esteem, according to science. Going on a hike or a camping trip in America's national treasures, which are its parks, may be one of the best ideas you'll have all year. The problem is which one. You won't make a mistake going to any of the ones on the following list, which is based on data provided by the NPS.

15. Arches, Utah

1,585,718 recreation visits in 2016

Contrasting colors are just one reason why people are drawn to the park's beauty. Another is the more than 2,000 natural stone formations unlike anywhere else in the world. Visitors love the 3-mile round-trip trek to Delicate Arch and the Fiery Furnace Walks, which are a real gem. Arches National Park preserves over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations.

14. Hawaii Volcanoes, Hawaii

1,887,580 recreation visits in 2016

This park, which displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration and evolution, gives visitors an opportunity to explore Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, hike over 100 miles of trails, and bike through deserts and rain forests. Kilauea, an active shield volcano, is extremely dangerous not because of the hot ash and lava, but because of toxic fumes that are released. The park encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the earth's most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet.

13. Bryce Canyon, Utah

2,365,110 recreation visits in 2016

Did you know that Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is actually not a canyon? Rather, it is a spectacular series of more than a dozen amphitheaters, each of which is carved at least 1,000 feet into the chromatic limestone. Exploring its incomparable beauty is an amazing experience. Erosion has shaped colorful sandstones and mudstones into thousands of spires, fins, pinnacles, and mazes. Camping and hiking are favorite activities. Imagine waking up and the first thing you see are the hoodoos, tall rocky spires. It's a stunning view. There are many different biking trails of dirt and paved roads you can follow; cyclists of all levels will be satisfied. You may even go up 9,000 feet in elevation.

12. Cuyahoga Valley, Ohio

2,423,390 recreation visits in 2016

You won't find similar mixtures of color and erosional formations anywhere else. The canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and about a mile deep, according to the NPS. Hiking, overnight backpacking and trips along the canyon rim are all available. The park is also ideal for bikers; it has 95 miles of paths, both single-track and multi-use trails. Just a short drive from the major metropolitan areas of Cleveland and Akron, the park protects 33,000 acres along the banks of the Cuyahoga River.

11. Joshua Tree, California

2,505,286 recreation visits in 2016

The Joshua Tree National Park has 792,000 acres of land, most of which is managed as wilderness. This is any backpacker's dream. Climate in the winter is mild, making the park a perfect adventure destination. Joshua Tree is a hub for rock climbing fans of all levels. The desert park is not just sand. You will be amazed by the various plants and animals you'll find. Imagine sleeping directly under the starry night sky and witnessing some of the most stunning nighttime views in the Golden State. 

10. Glacier, Montana

2,946,681 recreation visits in 2016

Glacier has more than one million acres to explore, and offers unique opportunities to go deep into the backwoods. The glaciers that carved limestone peaks into steep faces are still present in large numbers, although in diminutive sizes, feeding cascading waterfalls, glistening lakes, and wildflower alpine meadows. The park is a wild preserve you have to see to believe. Adventurous campers and hikers can spend weeks in the far flung reaches to truly unplug and connect with nature.

9. Grand Teton, Wyoming

3,270,076 recreation visits in 2016

Stunning beauty and unexpected surprises by charismatic wildlife or delicate wildflowers make the experience at the park a wonderful adventure. The mountains have earned this park the nickname "The American Alps." The central feature of the park is the Teton Range, an active, fault-block, 40-mile long mountain front. It includes eight peaks over 12,000-feet, including the Grand Teton at 13,770-feet. Seven morainal lakes run along the base of the range, and more than 100 alpine lakes can be found in the backcountry.

8. Acadia, Maine

3,303,393 recreation visits in 2016

Acadia has long been known for its stunning natural coastline and the best way to take it all in is from the water, making it a perfect location for paddling. There are public boat ramps in Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Southwest. The Precipice Trail is very popular on the East Coast but it's also one of the most dangerous. It's not technically difficult but the steep drops and open cliffs make the walk very tricky. Isle au Haut is one of the most remote places in the park but it's worth the trek. It's perfect for isolated camping.

7. Olympic, Washington

3,390,221recreation visits in 2016

From snow-capped mountain peaks to sea stacks on the Pacific coast, the vast expanse of protected land has a lot to offer visitors. One of its treasures can be found along the 73 miles of coastline, in the form of beaches with both easily accessible and far flung options. The rugged coastline is just miles away from alpine meadows, glaciers and vast swaths of rainforest. Consider camping at Deer Park, which boasts mountain views worth the climb and starry skies like few other places since it's at 5,400 feet in elevation. 

6. Yellowstone, Wyoming

4,257,177 recreation visits in 2016

The 3,500 miles stretching from Wyoming to Montana and Idaho are among the most visited year after year. Yellowstone was the very first national park established in the world. Founded to preserve the magnificent geysers and other geothermal wonders abundant in the area, the park is also a haven for threatened and endangered species. But Yellowstone is also an amazing destination for active adventures. You'll explore volcano's power, hot springs, geysers, mountains, forests, and lakes.

5. Zion, Utah

4,295,127 recreation visits in 2016

Zion National Park is regal all year-round. Spring is the time to see the waterfalls of Zion in their prime and the gorgeous contrast between red rocks and the abundance of green foliage. Among Utah's national parks, Zion holds the most diversified and easily accessible hiking trails. Some of its best hikes—Angel's Landing, Zion Narrows and The Subway aren't for everyone though. Getting there will take some trekking and possibly wading through some water.

4. Rocky Mountain, Colorado

4,517,585 recreation visits in 2016

Stunning vistas and native wildlife delight hikers of all skill levels who come year after year to explore the park. Visitors look forward to brilliant wildflowers, camping under starry nights and catching a glimpse of elk, moose, bears, cougars, and coyotes. With more than 300 miles of hiking trails, there's nothing quite like seeing the Rockies on foot. For a scenic adventure, the park is the perfect place to explore in the wintertime. From snowshoeing through the backcountry to sledding in Hidden Valley, there is fun for everyone.

3. Yosemite, California

5,028,868 recreation visits in 2016

You won't see cars or roads in most of the park, which may be what attracts so many visitors – the pure wilderness, Almost 95 percent of the park is a designated wilderness area. Go on a hiking trip to Glacier Point for a stunning view of the famed Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, which is one of the most dangerous places in the region. If you have an RV and want to go on a long camping trip, Yosemite is your destination. It has 13 popular campgrounds. Breathtaking waterfalls and giant sequoias are other picturesque draws.

2. Grand Canyon, Arizona

5,969,811 recreation visits in 2016

The Grand Canyon's immense size, 18 miles from rim-to-rim at its widest point and one mile deep, leaves many visitors weak in the knees. Hiking to the canyon's floor is a once in a lifetime experience. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a natural wonder revered by many. The colossal canyon has beckoned people to its cutaway gorges for centuries. Some of the most favorite activities include hiking the Bright Angel Trail, visiting the Grand Canyon Village and rafting the Colorado River.

1. Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

11,312,786 recreation visits in 2016

The park is the most visited in the U.S. for several years in a row. It's a top spot due to its mountainous views, world class diversity of animal and plant life, and its accessibility. The stunning views make for perfect day hikes. There is no shortage of trails in this magnificent 522,419-acre park. This is one of the best parks for camping. Deep Creek Campground is an awesome place. It's all about the water. The more adventurous campers can set up at horse camps. The park is home to more than 1,500 different types of blooming flowers during a typical long season.