Just how popular are America’s national parks right now? Last year, 57 of them set visitation records, as did the 410-park system as a whole: visitation was up a whopping five percent, or by 14.5 million visits, from the previous record set in 2014. In total, the park service recorded more than 307 million visits in 2015.
Naturally, this meant “gateway communities” situated within 60 miles of the parks brought in a boatload of revenue. The National Park Service has been measuring visitor spending effects since 1988, and this year’s report, which takes into account such variables as local sales tax, broken down by sector, overnights versus day trips, and where people stay, was released last month. In all, park visitors injected nearly $17 billion to their regional economies in 2015.
We could highlight which parks generated the whale’s share of that cash, but they’re the ones we all know: Great Smoky, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, et cetera. Instead we thought you might like to know about the little guys—the ones that generated the least visitor spending in 2015. Go visit them. You can rest assured they won’t be crowded.Listed from most lucrative to least lucrative.