Top 10 National Parks

I received an email asking me what are the top 10 most popular National Parks? The answer, of course, depends on how you define “popular” when it comes to National Parks. First, I’m making the assumption that the question is what are the top 10 US National Parks and not what are the top 10 National Parks in the world. In trying to come up with a list, it becomes pretty subjective as everybody has their own favorite parks. Possibly a more concrete way of measuring the top 10 parks would be to define a park’s popularity by the number of visitors it attracts. In this case, these are the top 20 national parks for 2010 (all the National Parks that received more than 1 million visitors) according to the National Park Service:

grand canyon national park

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: 9,463,538 visitors
2. Grand Canyon National Park: 4,388,386 visitors
3. Yosemite National Park: 3,901,408 visitors
4. Yellowstone National Park: 3,640,185 visitors
5. Rocky Mountain National Park: 2,955,821 visitors
6. Olympic National Park: 2,844,563 visitors
7. Grand Teton National Park: 2,669,374 visitors
8. Zion National Park: 2,665,972 visitors
9. Acadia National Park: 2,504,208 visitors
10. Cuyahoga Valley National Park: 2,492,670 visitors
11. Glacier National Park: 2,200,048 visitors
12. Joshua Tree National Park: 1,434,976 visitors
13. Hot Springs National Park: 1,311,807 visitors
14. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: 1,304,667 visitors
15. Bryce Canyon National Park: 1,285,492 visitors
16. Shenandoah National Park: 1,253,386 visitors
17. Mount Rainier National Park: 1,191,754 visitors
18. Haleakala National Park: 1,105,606 visitors
19. Arches National Park: 1,014,405 visitors
20. Sequoia National Park: 1,002,979 visitors

And some National Monuments that received over 1 million visitors in 2010

Castle Clinton National Monument: 4,126,378 visitors
Statue of Liberty National Monument: 3,833,288 visitors
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument: 1,372,724 visitors

Do you think that this is a valid way of measuring the top 10 National Parks? If not, what do you think would be a better way to determine this top 10 list?