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A night under the stars
A look at overnight stays at US National Parks

When should you pitch your tent? Or when is it better to opt for lodging? When should you visit to avoid the crowds? Let’s have a look!

How to read

We plotted the number of nights spent per month in each park. We separated four categories of accommodation: lodging, RV, tent, and backcountry. Each accommodation type comes with their own characteristics which determine their popularity over time.

0k5k10k15k20kWinterSpringSummerFall
The average temperature is above 70°F (21°C)
The larger the red area, the warmer
Number of nights spent per month per accommodation type
Here, the peak season for tent camping is ~18,000 nights in summer
Each concentric ring represents 5,000 nights
The average temperature is below 50°F (10°C)
The larger the white area, the colder

A word of caution, parks don’t have the same infrastructure. Some parks, such as Denali National Park, don't have any lodging; and we know all too well that campsites are in limited supply in all National Parks.

Mountain

Mountainous parks are known for their snowy winters. Only lodges provide the appropriate shelter during the cold season. They are great camping destination once the snow melts from late spring to early fall.

You will notice a peak of frequentation in the Appalachian Mountains in October when leaves turn yellow.

Lodging
RV
Tent
Backcountry
140kJanFMAMJJASONDYellowstoneWyoming, Montana, Idaho
115kJanFMAMJJASONDYosemiteCalifornia
65kJanFMAMJJASONDGrand TetonWyoming
50kJanFMAMJJASONDOlympicWashington
45kJanFMAMJJASONDGlacierMontana
45kJanFMAMJJASONDGreat Smoky MountainsTennessee, North Carolina
40kJanFMAMJJASONDSequoiaCalifornia