Cotopaxi, a company that makes backpacks, jackets and other outdoor gear — and donates a percentage of its earnings to worthy causes around the world — has come out with an infographic in celebration of this year’s 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service.
It shows the top five U.S. National Parks in terms of annual visitation, plus five “Hidden Gems” that are far less visited.
The top five visited National Parks, in order, are Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, Arizona’s Grand Canyon, Colorado’s Rocky Mountain, California’s Yosemite, and Yellowstone, which extends over parts of three states: mostly Wyoming, but also Montana and Idaho.
I’ve visited all of the most popular ones at one time or another, but have to admit I’ve never been to any of the Hidden Gens: Washington’s North Cascades, Florida’s Dry Tortugas, South Carolina’s Congaree, Nevada’s Great Basin, and Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains.
These parks and many more — ranging from California’s Redwood, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Death Valley to Maine’s Acadia, Virginia’s Shenandoah and Florida’s Everglades, as well as a host of others in between — are national treasures that have enriched my life and that of countless others.
Most American baby boomers, I’m sure, have visited some or many of them. Half the states in the U.S. — 25 — harbor at least one national park, and most have national monuments or other entities managed by the park service.
In economic terms, National Park visitation for 2015 generated 295,000 related jobs and $31 billion in economic output, according to the infographic.
But more important, the parks provide an immeasurable amount of pleasure and educational benefits to the traveling public.