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14 Most Visited National Parks


America’s National Parks drew 273.6 million visitors in 2013, according the National Parks Service website. These parks are full of natural wonders, plenty of wildlife and amazing vistas to behold.

From the world-famous geysers in Yellowstone Park to Arches’ dazzling rock formations in Utah to the rain forests of the Olympic mountains in Washington, there’s something for everyone to see and enjoy. The National Park Service includes 401 sites and 59 specially-designated areas. Here are the top 14 most visited National Parks — the number one most-visited park may just surprise you:

1. Mt. Rainier National Park (WA)

Mount Rainier National Park was founded in 1899 and was America’s 5th established national park. It spans 235,625 total square acres and 97% of it is a designated wilderness area. Rising a majestic 14,410 feet, the mountain for which the park is named is the tallest peak in the Cascade Range and an icon of the Washington state and Seattle area landscape.

Mount Rainier is an active volcano (it last erupted about 150 years ago) and is the most glaciated ice-capped peak in mainland U.S.A. Wildlife abounds in Mount Rainier National Park. Beautiful subalpine wildflower meadows surround it, as well as ancient forests gracing its lower slopes.

The snow-capped volcano of Mount Rainier is encased in a staggering 35 square miles of ice and snow. The park has 382 lakes, 470 rivers and streams and more than 3,000 acres of wetlands. There are also 26 glaciers on 9 major watersheds.

The park offers a complex ecosystem with diverse flora; about 58% is forested, 23% is subalpine and 19% is alpine. Douglas fir trees abound as well as 800 different plants, 63 mammals, 159 birds, 16 amphibians, 18 native fish and 5 reptiles. Its most prevalent animals include Douglas squirrels, graceful Columbian black-tailed deer, and loud, bright blue Stellar’s jays.

Elk and black bear are seen in a number of park habitats, while mountain goats usually remain in the alpine and subalpine zones.

The park has two major developed areas: Paradise and Sunrise. Smaller spots include Longmire, Ohanapecosh and Carbon/Mowich. The climate in Mount Rainier park is usually cool and rainy, with highs in the summertime reaching the 60s and 70s. July and August are the sunniest months, but it can rain any day, especially in the early spring, late fall and winter months. Snowfall in winter may limit park access.

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