Skift Take

Although Facebook check-ins don't give an accurate view of who or how many people visit parks each year, they do give travel providers and brands insights into which of those visitors are available for engagement and mobile deals on their phone.

More travelers than ever before are experiencing amazing views from behind the lens of a smartphone screen.

Some are taking photos and videos, others sending texts, and many are checking into Facebook, the digital┬áversion of the scrawled “I was here” message.

In celebration of Earth Day, Facebook revealed the most checked-into national parks in the U.S. and it’s a diverse list with parks located in 9 different states┬áspread across the country.

  1. Grand Canyon
  2. Yosemite
  3. Yellowstone
  4. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
  5. Great Smoky Mountains
  6. Zion
  7. Rocky Mountain
  8. Everglades
  9. Acadia
  10. Joshua Tree

But Facebook check-ins don’t equal actual visitation.

Visitation numbers for 2013, as recorded by the National Park Service, put these same 10 parks in a slightly different order.

The biggest differences are seen for Great Smoky Mountain, which jumps four spots to become the number one most visited park, and Wolf Trap, which drops six spots to the last position.

Parks Ranked on Actual Visitation 2013 Visitation
Great Smoky Mountains 9,354,695
Grand Canyon 4,564,840
Yosemite 3,691,191
Yellowstone 3,188,030
Rocky Mountain 2,991,141
Zion 2,807,387
Acadia 2,254,922
Joshua Tree 1,383,340
Everglades 1,047,116
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts 441,166

Visitors to Wolf Trap are often going to see a show, which makes it more likely for them to share a status update on Facebook. A lack of Internet coverage might be the cause of the Great Smoky Mountains’ low number of check-ins relative to actual visits.

Data from Facebook

Facebook found that most national park visitors only make it to one park a year. Of all the people who checked into a national park on Facebook in 2013, only 9 percent visited more than one park.

It also found that the majority of park visitors were Americans. Only 12 percent lived in another country with the majority coming from the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia and France.

The majority of Americans that visit the national parks live in the west, likely because there are more accessible parks options there than for citizens that live on the east coast.

The U.S. cities whose residents are the top visitors to U.S. parks are D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego and Denver.


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Tags: check-ins, facebook, national parks, outdoors, usa

Photo credit: Tourists look out from the Yavapai Observation Station on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park

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