Hidden gems outshine iconic parks in latest Travel Lemming survey

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 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 

Ranking National Park Name State
1 Shenandoah National Park VA
2 North Cascades National Park WA
3 Biscayne National Park FL
4 (tie) Kings Canyon National Park CA
4 (tie) Sequoia National Park CA
6 Everglades National Park FL
7 Big Bend National Park TX
8 Mammoth Cave National Park KY
9 Death Valley National Park CA, NV
10 Channel Islands National Park CA

The full ranking can be found at here.

Thoughts from the executives

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,” she concluded.