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Many U.S. National Parks were more popular than ever last year, with 44 sites setting recreation visit records. 

Voyageurs, the only National Park in Minnesota, was not one of them.

For the second straight year, Voyageurs National Park was one of the least-visited National Parks, according to figures released Wednesday.

The site — 218,055 acres of pristine wilderness tucked along the border with Canada — had 243,042 recreation visits in 2021. That ranks 50th out of the 63 properties designated as National Parks.

Last year's figures also represent a drop from 2020, when Voyageurs had 263,091 recreation visits and ranked 43rd overall. (It should be noted that 2021 saw long-lasting drought conditions and dangerous wildfires throughout northeast Minnesota, with Voyageurs at one point instituting a ban on campfires and charcoal grills over fire concerns.)

Voyageurs' totals pale in comparison to recreation visits seen among the most popular National Parks:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains — 14,161,548
  2. Zion — 5,039,835
  3. Yellowstone — 4,860,242
  4. Grand Canyon — 4,532,677
  5. Rocky Mountain — 4,434,848
  6. Acadia — 4,069,098
  7. Grand Teton — 3,885,230
  8. Yosemite — 3,287,595
  9. Indiana Dunes — 3,177,210
  10. Glacier — 3,081,656

National Park Service Director Chuck Sams even acknowledged the top-heavy figures, saying in a statement that while they're "happy to see so many visitors returning to iconic parks," there are "hundreds more that should be on everyone’s bucket list."

Voyageurs generally ranks low on the visitation list. Here are recreation visits from each year over the past decade:

  • 2012 — 214,841
  • 2013 — 233,390
  • 2014 — 239,160
  • 2015 — 238,313
  • 2016 — 241,912
  • 2017 — 237,250
  • 2018 — 239,656
  • 2019 — 232,974
  • 2020 — 263,091
  • 2021 — 243,042

But you know what? Maybe that's not a bad thing. 

While everyone else overcrowds the high-profile sites, Minnesota can keep enjoying the quiet, calm and peace found in its sole National Park.

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