Sand Creek Massacre Experiences Increased Visitation in 2016

NPS Park Guide Mario Median explains the Sand Creek Massacre to visitors. NPS Courtesy Photo

NPS Park Guide Mario Median explains the Sand Creek Massacre to visitors. NPS Courtesy Photo

Nationally the Park Service Certifies 2016 Visitation at 331 million

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site (NHS) hosted 6,847 visitors in 2016, almost one thousand visitors more than the previous year. Visitation to the park has been increasing annually since 2011.

Undoubtedly the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service increased the public’s awareness of their national parks.” said Chief of Interpretation Shawn Gillette. “A combination of the Centennial and heightened cultural awareness of the Sand Creek Massacre resulted in an increase in the annual park’s visitation.”

Across the entire National Park System, visitors logged a record-breaking 331 million visits during the National Park Service’s centennial year in 2016, according to official numbers announced today.

“Stunning,” Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds said of the 2016 count. “We expected more visitors in 2016 as the NPS celebrated its Centennial with special events and activities, but these numbers really show the depth of feeling people have for their national parks, especially considering that increased visitation was recorded not just at the biggest and best known parks but at smaller historical and cultural sites as well.”

Visitation growth from 2015 to 2016 was greatest in parks that see more modest annual visitation. “That shows the breadth of support for parks and, I think,” Reynolds said, “the Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque  campaign launched with the National Park Foundation reached new audiences but also highlighted what we might call lesser-known parks.”

Overall the 2016 Park Service-wide numbers showed a 7.7% increase over 2015.  382 of the 417 parks in the National Park System count visitors and 77 of those parks set a new record for annual recreation visits.

Top 10 Visitation

All Parks of the National Park System:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area – 15,638,777

Blue Ridge Parkway – 15,175,578

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11,312,786

George Washington Memorial Parkway – 10,323,339

Gateway National Recreation Area – 8,651,770

Lincoln Memorial – 7,915,934

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – 7,175,891

Grand Canyon National Park – 5,969,811

Natchez Trace Parkway – 5,891,315

Vietnam Veterans Memorial – 5,299,713

National Parks:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11,312,786

Grand Canyon National Park – 5,969,811

Yosemite National Park – 5,028,868

Rocky Mountain National Park – 4,517,585

Zion National Park – 4,295,127

Yellowstone National Park – 4,257,177

Olympic National Park – 3,390,221

Acadia National Park – 3,303,393

Grand Teton National Park – 3,270,076

Glacier National Park – 2,946,681

For an in-depth look at 2016 visitation figures please visit the NPS Social Science web site.

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417  national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

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