Bill Alen - May 4, 2015

Did you know that there is a huge market for tourism in protected areas? A recent study by researchers in Cambridge, UK, Princeton, New Jersey, and Washington, DC showed that national parks and protected areas receive around eight billion visits every year, thus revealing a huge potential for this kind of tourism. Here are the 10 most visited parks and reserves according to their data. Brought to you by

10. Cape Cod National Seashore, USA

(4.1 million visits annually)

Located in Massachusetts, this protected area is part of president John F. Kennedy’s legacy and it includes over 40 miles of seashore, along with the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecoregion. There are also several places of interest in this area, including the Marconi Station, a historic site where the first two-way transatlantic radio transmission took place.

9. Grand Canyon National Park, USA

(4.29 million visits annually)

This is one of the US oldest national parks, and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Located in the state of Arizona, its most prominent site is the Grand Canyon, one of the United States most famous natural tourist attractions and often considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

8. New Forest National Park, UK

(4.3 million visits annually)

Located in Hampshire, a county in the South East of England, New Forest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the country. It is also believed to contain the largest concentration of ancient trees in Western Europe, and it is an important habitat for several species, not to mention a breathtaking collection of ancient and ornamental sights, including some picturesque villages.

7. Dartmoor National Park, UK

(4.3 million visits annually)

Dartmoor is another of England’s large moorlands which is protected as a National Park. It is located in Devon, a southern region of England, and it features geological sites as well as the habitat for the Dartmoor wildlife. The park is also very rich as an archaeological site.

6. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, USA

(5 million visits annually)

This protected area encompasses 70,000 acres of land in the middle section of the Delaware River stretching from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. It also notably features a 40-mile stretch of the Delaware River which is protected as Middle Delaware National Scenic River and is located entirely within the National Recreation Area. Also within this protected area are the Appalachian Trail and several other historical and archaeological sites.

5. North York Moors National Park, UK

(7.3 million visits annually)

Established in 1952, this National Park located in North Yorkshire, England, features an area of 1,436 km2 of heather moorland, one of the biggest expanses in the UK, which is where it takes its name from.

4. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, USA

(7.7 million visits annually)

This US National Park is located in the desert between the states of Nevada and Arizona. It features the famous Lake Mead and the smaller Lake Mohave, as well as the Hoover Dam and the Davis Dam which is why this park is a prime area for water activities as well as hiking. Also notably, three of the main US desert ecosystems meet in this National Park.

3. Peak District National Park, UK

(10.1 million visits annually)

Peak District is a mountainous area in the North of England, situated at the Southernmost end of the Pennines along the area between the towns of Sheffield and Manchester. This park presents a breathtaking landscape of valleys and peaks.

2. Lake District National Park, UK

(10.5 million visits annually)

England’s largest National Park is located in the popular holiday area of Lake District, which includes thriving communities as well as ecological landscapes. Also located in this park are the country’s tallest mountain and deepest lake.

1. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, USA

(13.7 million visits annually)

The most visited site in the US National Park System, it features 80,002 acres (32,376 ha) of breathtaking ecologically and historically significant landscape in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was formerly used by the US Army. Made up of several different areas of San Francisco, including the famous Alcatraz Island, it is one of the largest urban parks in the world.

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