National Parks

The 10 Most-Searched National Parks of 2023, According to Google Maps

Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion take the top three spots—while other beloved destinations are notably absent.
A wide angle summer morning view captured from the Calcite Springs View Area in Yellowstone National Park Wyoming. Far...
Rebecca L. Latson/Getty Images

Americans are always on the search for great national parks—and this week, Google released its Year in Search trends for 2023, along withsome unpublished data shared directly with Condé Nast Traveler, confirming exactly which parks were searched the most via Google Maps over the past year.

“We continue to see Americans show a great deal of interest in traveling to national parks, whether that’s to see the sights or to check off another park from their bucket list,” Jenny Lee, Google Search's Data Insights Lead, tells CNT.

Yes, there are the usual suspects on the below list—big, household names that no doubt countless Americans roadtripped to—but what's surprising is the absence of a few regular suspects on most-visited lists from the National Park Service (NPS) in recent years, and the rise of some that don't always make “top 10” lists.

Read on for the full run-down of the 10 national parks people searched for most on Google Maps this year, in descending order—plus, how to enjoy a visit that allows you to bypass everyone else who has planned a trip there (including some totally underrated parks and NPS sites nearby to detour to).

All listings featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. If you book something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


10. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

For those seeking an elevated national park adventure—literally—Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest parks in the US, with altitudes ranging from 7,860 to 14,259 feet. That includes sixty peaks that each stretch more than 12,000 feet into the Colorado skies. With the 415-square-mile site straddling the Continental Divide, visitors are treated to a range of ecosystems and terrains, from sprawling valleys with summertime wildflowers to lush subalpine forests with dense evergreen trees and alpine tundras with dwarfed plants and wide open viewpoints.

During the peak summer period, timed entry permits are required. For ease, make your home base in Estes Park on the park’s eastern side, whether at a lakeside lodge like The Estes Park Resort or an Airbnb cabin. Located about an hour and half northwest of the Mile High City of Denver and an hour northwest of Boulder, Rocky Mountain can easily be paired with other nearby sky-high adventures, like the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland.


9. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

In southern Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park, it’s as if Mother Nature traded her delicate paintbrush for striking abstract sculpting, resulting in an otherworldly collection of hoodoos, towers, and spires that the U.S. Geological Survey describes as a “forest of rocks.” Whether it’s hiking, biking, driving, or horseback riding, gasp-worthy moments come at every turn, especially at Inspiration Point, Sunrise Point, and the Bryce Amphitheater.

While May through July and September are the park's peak visiting seasons, spring and fall offer more breathing room. But winter just might be the quietest treat, as white snow contrasts against the red rocks. Getting there is a part of the journey, as the closest major airports are Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, each about 270 miles away. For a shorter drive, Utah has two regional terminals: Cedar City about 80 miles away and St. George about 125 miles away–where set-jetting High School Musical fans will recognize The Inn at Estrada as the fictional Lava Spring Country Club in the second movie.

Stan Dzugan/Getty Images

8. Acadia National Park, Maine

When Acadia National Park was established in 1919, it marked several firsts for the NPS: it was the first national park east of the Mississippi River, the first on a coast, and the first donated by private individuals in order to preserve it for public use. One look at the striking shoreline and it’s easy to understand why. The 50,000 acres sits at a transitional zone between the northern and southern forests, also encompassing the east coast’s highest mountains and subalpine summits.

With so many people enchanted by the unique Northeast park, traffic congestion becomes a reality of travel from June through September. (Access to the popular Cadillac Summit Road is managed by a Vehicle Reservation System from May to October.) The park recommends arriving before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. or taking the free Island Explorer bus—or visiting at night to catch the moonrise and shooting stars, as well as hear the owls’ hoots. Late fall, winter, and spring also see less crowds. Maine’s Bangor International Airport is about an hour’s drive away, while Hancock County Airport is just 10 miles away.


7. Sequoia National Park, California

There’s no better way to feel truly engulfed by nature than by standing among the world’s tallest trees. Set in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Sequoia National Park isn’t just impressive for the height of its reddish-hued Giant Sequoias, but the volume. One of the best places to experience them is in the Giant Forest, which includes the largest living specimen dubbed the General Sherman Tree, measuring 275 feet tall with a 36-foot diameter.

About a 2.5-hour drive north from Los Angeles, Visalia Municipal Airport is about an hour’s drive and Fresno Yosemite International is just shy of two hours away. (Yosemite itself is more than three hours north by car.) Paired with adjacent Kings Canyon—which John Muir once called “a rival to Yosemite”—the park offers a two-in-one national parks adventure, which can also be embellished with visits to nearby Inyo National Forest and Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest. (The latter is currently closed—check back for updates though.)

Denise Taylor/Getty Images

6. Joshua Tree National Park, California

Twisted, prickly, and completely whimsical, the playful Joshua trees for which Joshua Tree National Park was named, are endemic to Mojave desert, turning the southern California park into fan favorite. Add to that fantastical geological formations—some up to 100 million years old—and its popularity is no doubt thanks to all of its natural made-for-Instagram sites. Supplement the scenery by booking a reservation for tour of the park’s Keys Ranch, a well-preserved 1910-built home of a mining and ranching family, usually offered from October through May.

Just an hour east of Palm Springs International Airport or three hours from Los Angeles International, spring tends to usher in the most crowds. Open year-round, desert conditions can get rough in the hottest months, so preparation is key, especially with limited cell service and water available. (I learned the hard way, being suddenly forced to rely on a shabby paper map and limited water supply.) To really get lost in the Joshua Tree spirit, opt for an area Airbnb or head to the ranch-style Pioneertown Motel or the mineral water resort The Good House in Desert Hot Springs.


5. Glacier National Park, Montana

Located in northern Montana near the Canadian border, Glacier National Park has both symbolic and natural accolades. As part of the first international peace park with Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, the two parks combine the best sights (from high-altitude lakes, rivers to, of course, glaciers) and cultural history (including that of the Kootenai and Salish tribes who have been in the area for thousands of years) of the two countries.

One of the best ways to get here is by rail on Amtrak’s Empire Builder, which has multiple stops in the area (some seasonal). Glacier Park International Airport is also located about 30 miles from the park’s western gate. With so many visitors descending on the area in the summer months—three million in peak seasons—fall, winter, and spring offers makes navating more enjoyable. Also consider focusing on other area locations like Blackfeet Nation, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, and Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site.


4. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The grandeur of Grand Canyon National Park lies in its mystery: Rock strata that are 250 million years old somehow manage to lie adjacent to rocks that are 1.2 billion years old, in what’s known as the Great Unconformity, with no one quite understanding what happened during that period in-between. What we do know is that the 277-mile long canyon with the Colorado River running through it is a breathtaking natural phenomena located on the ancestral homeland of 11 Indigenous tribes, making it one of the world's most iconic landmarks.

While Phoenix Sky Harbor International is the closest major hub—it is a four-hour drive away. Flagstaff Pulliam Airport is about 90-minutes to the south. For those looking for a slower, more intentional journey—try traveling via the Grand Canyon Railway, which has daily departures from Williams, Arizona. Visitors flock to the highly-coveted South Rim location year-round. For a quieter and more rugged experience, the North Rim is open from mid-May through mid-October.


3. Zion National Park, Utah

Southern Utah’s Zion National Park joins the state’s epic collection of protected spaces. Many Americans likely search for this park because of its ease as a road trip getaway from urban centers like Las Vegas (about two hours), Salt Lake City (about four hours), and Los Angeles (about six hours), but the real deal-sealers are the 232-square-mile park’s Virgin River canyons, Navajo sandstone cliffs, hanging gardens, and vast waterfalls. (Not to mention the ease with which you can link it to parks like Bryce on a multi-stop trip.)

Shoulder season offers unique delights, like colorful foliage in higher elevations in the fall and the blooming of flora like the rich red Claret cup cactus flowers in the spring. New accommodations have been springing up in the area, including AutoCamp Zion, which opened in May offering glamping with views of the red rocks, as well as Black Desert Resort, a 450-room golf resort, set to open in 2024.


2. Yosemite National Park, California

Cliffs, domes, peaks, waterfalls, rivers, forests, and lakes—Yosemite National Park is like a sampler platter, offering the best of every geographical element. On top of that, 95% of its 747,956 acres is designated wilderness, home to diverse wildlife. Scratch under the surface, and the California park is also filled with a richly diverse history, as seen in the Chinese Laundry Building, which reopened in 2021, showcasing Asian American contributions to building the park.

About a four to five hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area and six hours from Los Angeles, the park offers on-site lodging ranging from the luxury hotel The Ahwahnee to the cabins of White Wolf Lodge (seasonal). Aim for visits in May and September, hitting that sweet spot around the summer crowds, but when the California weather still brings pleasant days.

Rebecca L. Latson/Getty Images

1. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana

As the country’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park—and its most famous attraction Old Faithful—need no help drawing in the crowds. But of course, this year, its Google Maps searches no doubt got a boost from “set-jetters,” with renewed interest in the 2.2 million acre park, thanks to the Paramount Network’s Kevin Costner-helmed show Yellowstone.

While the demand means snagging a booking and wading through crowds can be difficult, try for the in-between periods of April through May and September through October. There are also plenty of nearby parks to discover, like Ashton-Tetonia Trail State Park in Felt, Idaho, which follows a 29.6-mile abandoned railroad grade, and Caribou-Targhee National Forest, a 3 million acre Idaho site skirting the Montana, Utah, and Wyoming borders.