Expedia National Parks Index

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Polling America's favorite national parks, picks for new faces on Mount Rushmore

The U.S. National Park System contains some of my favorite places to get away for vacation with my family. And according to a recent study from Expedia, a whole bunch of Americans agree—especially when it comes to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks.

The study, titled the Expedia National Parks Index, generated data about American opinions on a variety of subjects, including how recently they had visited a national park, which national park features they prefer, and which American president or other famous person they would choose to add to Mount Rushmore if they could.

We designed the study to commemorate the centennial anniversary of America’s national park system, and conducted it using Google Consumer Surveys, a Google service that enables polling of a demographically representative sample of Americans online.

We produced the piece in conjunction with the new IMAX 3D film, National Parks Adventure, which we also helped sponsor.

Overall the study included replies from 1,039 American adults.

Favorite parks, selfie attractions

Without question, the biggest takeaways were the opinions about specific parks. About 27 percent of all respondents said Yellowstone National Park was their No. 1, while 20 percent said Grand Canyon, 18 percent said Great Smoky Mountains, 16 percent said Rocky Mountain, and 10 percent said Yosemite. When asked to name the most beautiful national park, the same five parks were cited, only this time with Grand Canyon (25 percent), Yellowstone (21 percent) and Yosemite (20 percent) in the top three.

We even represented selfie fans in the study, asking respondents which national parks landscape, monument, or feature Americans would “most like to take a selfie in front of.” The winners? Mount Rushmore at 30 percent, Grand Canyon at 25 percent, and Old Faithful at 18 percent.

People love parks

Overall, 76 percent of respondents to the Expedia National Parks Index said they “strongly agree” that national parks are a “valuable and beautiful” feature of the United States. About 50 percent of respondents said they have visited a national park, 38 percent of respondents said they had been to a national park in the past five years, and 32 percent reported having visited one in the past year.

New faces on Mount Rushmore?

In what was perhaps the most obtuse part of the study, participants were presented with a range of modern American presidents and asked to select who they wanted to add to Mount Rushmore alongside George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

Interestingly, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the runaway winner, chosen by 29 percent of respondents, while JFK garnered 21 percent of the vote and Ronald Reagan came in with 19 percent.

Survey respondents also were given the option of writing-in the name of any famous person, and the results here were uplifting. Martin Luther King, Jr., got the greatest number of votes at 11 percent. He was followed closely by Benjamin Franklin (7 percent), Albert Einstein (3 percent), and Jesus Christ (2 percent).

Personally, I’d love to see our CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, added to the “Mount.” Then again, I’m pretty biased.

What is your favorite national park and why?

Expedia compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site, such compensation may include travel and other costs.

Sarah Waffle Gavin

Sarah Gavin is Expedia’s Vice President of Global Communications, overseeing a team around the world that focus on telling travel’s great stories. Her passion lies in bringing people together through the shared experiences and mind-broadening phenomenon of travel – while revealing all the tips and tricks to getting the best value on vacation. Part foodie, part tech geek, part mom, part traveler, Sarah loves a mini staycation with her husband, as much as a power shop through New York. Her family trips are treasured above all else, and when she's not sitting poolside in Mexico with the kids, she hangs her hat in the burbs of Seattle, Washington at the intersection of travel, technology, and motherhood.

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One thought on “Expedia National Parks Index”

  1. I really think Glacier National Park should be in the top 3. Maybe because it is so off the beaten track not many people have the time or ambition to go that far. It was the first National Park we saw, back in 1970, and I still remember that visit like it was yesterday…

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