The most congested national park in America is …

by Christopher Elliott on May 28, 2010


… Yosemite National Park in California. That’s according to a new survey by TomTom, which aggregated the average speeds of vehicles traveling through the parks, based on anonymous user-shared data using its navigation devices.

Of the top 10 most visited National Parks, Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho have the longest individual traffic jams, with 3.5 and 2.8 miles respectively, it found.

But it’s not all bad news for park visitors this summer. The findings suggest the parks are not as congested as they are often depicted.

Of the nearly 8,200 total miles of navigable roads within the National Parks, only about 0.1% of all roadways experienced any regularly occurring traffic within the park. This is further evidenced by the total average driving speed within all the parks generally differed by no more than 10 miles per hour.

Traffic jams were defined as situations in which drivers could travel at only 70 percent or less of the posted speed limit, meaning on average an hour long trip included 20 minutes or more of significant delays.

Among the other finding:

Slowest is also fastest. Yellowstone also ranks second in terms of overall roadway speed with an average of 33.3 mph, behind only Washington Headquarters Park (39.3 mph).

Grand delays. Of the most visited parks, only Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is among the ten National Parks with the slowest average driving speeds, with an average speed of 23 mph. Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado (18.2 mph) and Assateague Island National Park in Maryland and Virginia (19.8 mph) have the slowest average speeds.

Look for these chokepoints. Regularly occurring traffic within the parks often coincided with park entrances and centers, majestic vistas and scenic areas where visitors slow to enjoy their surroundings. The data does not include information on incidental traffic in the parks, which may occur due to adverse weather conditions, exciting wild animal sightings or other unpredictable events.

The top five parks that offer the highest average speeds include:

1. Washington Headquarters National Park, PA – average of 39.9 mph
2. Yellowstone National Park, WY, MT and ID – 33.3 mph
3. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH – 32.6 mph
4. Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit, ND – 29.8 mph
5. Congaree National Park, SC – 29.4 mph

Not exactly the Autobahn, but when you’re on vacation, you don’t want to be sitting in a parking lot, either.

Have a great Memorial Day holiday.

(Photo: Wolfgang Staudt/Flickr Creative Commons)

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