In celebration of National Parks week, Travel Lemming released a data-backed ranking of all 63 US national parks. Indiana Dunes National Park ranked #42 overall, due to data indicating it is the second-worst reviewed and fourth most-crowded park in the nation.
Travel Lemming’s national parks ranking is based on an analysis of data scoring each park across six factors: affordability, accessibility, biodiversity, crowds, reviews, and weather.
The report revealed the following insights regarding Indiana’s only national park:
- Indiana Dunes National Park ranked #42 overall. Despite high marks for biodiversity and accessibility, its overall ranking was impacted by below average reviews and heavy crowds.
- Indiana Dunes received the second-worst average user reviews in the USA, ahead of only Alaska’s Kobuk Valley National Park. While most national parks receive stellar reviews, on average visitors rated Indiana Dunes only 4.2 out of 5 stars.
- Indiana Dunes is also the fourth most crowded in the country, with over 184 visits per acre of park land. This placed it ahead of only three parks in the crowds factor.
- The park performed better in the biodiversity category, due to its 1,964 species. It also did well in terms of accessibility, ranking 6th in the nation due to its close proximity to multiple airports.
The top 10 US national parks in the USA according the report are:
|Ranking||National Park Name||State|
|1||Shenandoah National Park||VA|
|2||North Cascades National Park||WA|
|3||Biscayne National Park||FL|
|4 (tie)||Kings Canyon National Park||CA|
|4 (tie)||Sequoia National Park||CA|
|6||Everglades National Park||FL|
|7||Big Bend National Park||TX|
|8||Mammoth Cave National Park||KY|
|9||Death Valley National Park||CA, NV|
|10||Channel Islands National Park||CA|
The most famous national parks fared surprisingly poorly in the data, largely due to the crowds and affordability factors. Grand Canyon National Park was ranked #15, Yellowstone National Park at position #23, and Yosemite National Park at slot #34.
Travel Lemming Senior Travel Writer McKenna Mobley commented: “I have traveled the world, and can confidently say that the USA national parks are unparalleled, making them one of my all-time favorite travel destinations. Every US national park offers its own special flair, so in some sense ranking them is like ranking music genres — they’re all good!”
“However, I hope this report highlights the fact that some of America’s less famous parks offer far more than what meets the eye. Sometimes the best experiences can be found at hidden park gems that are off the lemming path.”
National Parks were ranked on six factors, based on the following data:
- Crowds – Number of visits per acre of park land in 2022. (Sources: NPS 2022 Recreation Visit Data, Wikipedia Acreage Data)
- Reviews – Average visitor review score out of 5. (Sources: Google Maps, Yelp, TripAdvisor)
- Weather – Number of months with a comfortable average temperature, defined as between 50 and 90 degrees fahrenheit. (Source: NOAA NECI US Climate Normals)
- Affordability – Average nightly cost of a nearby quality hotel room during the first weekend of the park’s most popular month. (Sources: Booking, Google Travel, Hotel Websites)
- Accessibility – Average of driving distance to the park from the closest FAA Primary Airport and from the closest hub airport. (Sources: FAA, Google Maps Driving Distance, Wikipedia Major US Airports)
- Biodiversity – Number of species deemed “present or probably present.” (Source: NPS Species List)
Overall rankings were determined by each park’s average ranking across all factors. Further details are available in the report’s methodology section.
About Travel Lemming
Travel Lemming is an online travel guide with more than 10 million annual readers. It is known for highlighting emerging and lesser-known destinations, and for the authentic guides produced by its team of dozens of local and expert travel creators.