Did you know there are small national parks? They’re often overlooked, so Outside magazine has compiled the list of the Ten Least Popular National Parks in the U.S.
Several are in the Maryland/Washington, DC region.
At #1 is the Thomas Stone National Historic Site in Maryland, at the tip of the Port Tobacco River, an off-shoot of the Potomac River in southern Maryland.
Thomas Stone was one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. He’s buried behind the house.
The 322 acre park contains the restored colonial home, outbuildings and family cemetery. The Visitor Center features exhibits, orientation film, sales area, picnic tables and restrooms. This park has no admission fee.
Yet, Outside magazine reports, “Last year the site attracted 5,772 visits and generated $33,050 in visitor spending.”
In comparison, 14.5 million people visited the 417 national parks last year, bringing in $17 billion to local economics. You may think Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or another of the biggies top the list. Nope. The Blue Ridge Parkway, also known as the Smokey Mountains, through North Carolina and Tennessee brought in 15 million visitors and $952-thousand in local revenue. Yellowstone National Park came in at just under four-million visitors with a local economic impact of under a half-million dollars.
But Thomas Stone Historic Site is the most popular of the least visited national historic sites.
The list also includes the Clara Barton National Historic Site in the Washington, DC suburb of Glen Echo, Maryland (#6) — but that one is closed right now for renovations — and the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site in Washington, DC (#7), the first headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women.
At the bottom of the list: Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial on the east side of the San Francisco Bay bridge, honoring 320 men who died when two ships blew up during World War II while they were being loaded with ammo. Only 963 visits last year and generating $5,520.