Here are National Park Obsessed, we love our national parks (even ones we want to be demoted from a National Park to a National Memorials). We are well aware that not everyone shares our love of the parks. As a close friend once said, “Camping, you mean sleep on the ground. Thanks but no thanks.” I was doing some research for a road trip and suddenly found myself going down a rabbit hole and reading the reviews of the national parks. I have scoured the reviews of all 61 national parks and found the greatest of the 1-star and 2-star reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp.
I reviewed hundreds of reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp. Thankfully, every park holds a 4 star or higher rating. While every park had a few negative reviews, not every park had a review I found funny or ridiculous. I did notice that most of the negative review fell into a few categories (and a lot of crossover) – weather, traffic, overcrowding, fees, closures, didn’t like the rules, rude staff.
I fully understand how any one of these issues can put a damper on your national park visit. Trust me I know. Imagine planning to summit Longs Peak in Rocky Moutain National Park, the weather is supposed to be clear for two days. You are three-fourths of the way to the summit when you see the thunderstorm rolling in. Add in it’s your second attempt to summit this mountain. It sucked to put all that planning and work in and get weathered off the mountain (for a second time). Been there, done that.
I suspect that many park visitors are not aware that the National Parks has 11.6 billion dollars of deferred maintenance. Deferred maintenance is repairs or maintenance on roads, buildings, utility systems, and other structures and facilities across the National Park System have been postponed for more than a year due to budget constraints. This comes out to about 27.8 million dollars per NPS unit. The 11.6 doesn’t include any improvements NPS would like to make visiting the parks easier, more accessible, or to better deal with the masses.
The biggest complaint I read in terms of park entrance fees was that they charge a fee. The fees help fund the parks. NPS gets about 3 billion a year from the federal government. They are about 4 years of funding behind on maintenance. Every dollar NPS collect in entrance fee is important to maintain the parks. It does suck that you have to pay $30 to visit the Grand Canyon for an hour or for seven days. Imagine if NPS had to spend their time checking if your pass is valid. It would be a pain and slow entrance stations down even more. One fee for all is just easier to manage.
In the last 5 years, national park visitation has grown massively. Many of the roads and infrastructure in our parks was not designed to handle the huge numbers of tourist. Many of the parks were developed 25 to 75 years ago. No one imagined that park visitation would be what it is today. It is a problem. Park Service knows its a problem. They face the issue that they have to balance protecting the environment while allowing the public to visit the parks. It is not easy for them to just cut down a few trees and build a massive parking lot.
Now add in that park like Yellowstone have a very limited window to perform any and all major building projects. You cannot do construction such as road word during freezing weather. They can only do construction during the summer which just happens to coincide with the parks busy season. They have no choice. Park Service does its best.
Now as for the rude employees. Imagine if you had to deal with thousands of people complaining about the lack of parking, road construction, and the weather. I am sure it gets old. That does excuse them from being rude but it does make it a little more understandable when you realize what they going thru.
I can understand all of the issues above and completely agree that they are valid complaints. Reviews are meant to share your personal experience and I fully support sharing your experience. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to chuckle at your opinion. Here are the funniest national park reviews I could find.
Funny National Park Reviews
Arches National Park
“Delicate arch looks like it might fall over at any time. It might fall over in the future. Doesn’t look anything like the license plate.”
“This park was extremely underwhelming. I went in with low expectations ready to see a couple rocks with holes, instead what I saw where many stone pillars that resembled circumcised donkey dicks. Over all has some pretty nice rocks though take the kids!”
Badlands National Park
“So we left yellowstone at midnight and drove overnight straight to badlands. When we arrived my comment was “this is it?”. Badlands is basically washed out hills of 50,000 year old mud. You have vast grasslands on one side, and old mud on the other. And the mud wasn’t even differently colored layers or have any other redeeming qualities. It was brown.“
“I didn’t see what the big deal was. We drove a million years to see some semi impressive rock formations? And there were RATTLESNAKES everywhere? Dumb. You lose cell service because you’re in Nowhere USA. The only thing bad about these lands is entire experience. Waste of time. Thank god I was drunk in the backseat for the majority of the trip.”
Big Bend National Park
My girlfriend and I decided to drive all the way accross Texas overnight to get there right as the visitor center in the Chisos Basin was opening to get backcountry permits since it was the first one to open and we wanted to get some good campsites. When we arrived, we were told they were not issuing permits there because they didn’t have any gas or electricity. They didn’t expect to get any electricity for at least half a week. Have you ever camped with a woman for half a week where there is no available warm running water anywhere? They start to stink. And complain. And to top it off we never got to see any bears or mountain lions. You’d think with a park that size and such low populations of those critters they could train them to hang out 100 yards or so from the trails and stuff, but apparently our government is too incompetent to even pull off some basic services. Thanks a lot Obama.
Biscayne National Park
This National Park was highly recommended to us, but didn’t have a whole lot. It would be nice if they expanded some of the land-based and cold-weather activities. There is a boardwalk where you can walk out through some mangroves, mostly where people go fishing. Some educational signs but few exhibits. Not even much scenery. We saw a couple kinds of fish, but mostly murky water.
Bryce Canyon National Park
We left Zion early to make sure we saw Bryce – that was a mistake. Bryce is not nearly as interesting or spectacular. At Bryce you feel like you are seeing the same rocks from 20 different angles.
Canyonlands National Park
I was underwhelmed by this park. It was nothing like the Grand Canyon, with darkish colored stone layers, vs the red rocks almost everywhere in southern Utah and Arizona. Maybe if we had taken a hike, we would have glimpsed more beauty close up.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Unless you find big caves and rocks overwhelmingly fascinating then skip this. Of all the national parks we have visited this is by far the most boring. A walk along dimly lite paths in a huge cave with rocks and pits and pools illuminated BFD. If you have never been inside a cave or seen a picture of a cave this might interest you, otherwise don’t waste your time, energy nor money.
Channel Islands National Park
Ferry turned to be best part of the trip! We saw seals and dolphins from very close. Once we arrived on the Island, fun factor dropped drastically. Island is filled of bird poop and smelled horrible with too many birds around. There is a 2 mile hike with beautiful views but the overall ambience with stinky smell kills the fun. No shed or pit stops to enjoy the hike. Before long, we were waiting for the ferry back!
Congaree National Park
It was a very chilly day. They need to spray for bugs. To many trees, they should consider removing all trees.
Crater Lake National Park
The concierge at my hotel and a few others were barking about how great “Crater Lake” is. I went on trip advisor and saw the reviews thinking this was a cant miss. Boy was I wrong. Let me break it down for you, its essentially a deep lake. Big whoop. I can only see maybe 10′ down and then its black so why do i care if its 12 feet deep or 12,000? Also, according to wikipedia its the 9th deepest lake in the world, so im essentially wasting my time. Wizard island was the biggest joke and waste of a time. Nothing even happens on that island that is remotely entertaining. After walking around for a bit wondering if there is anything else to do at this hole of water, I headed back to my car. On the way there I slipped and fell in what i can only imagine was animal droppings. I got it all over my boots, jeans and shirt. The smell emanating from the poo was atrocious. Luckily I had a duffle of clothes to change into. I left after maybe an hour and half of walking around. Do not drive out of your way for this hole of water.
Ok yes the water is very blue. And then also the water is quite blue, not to mention that the water is very blue.
OTT, mosciqitos ate the whole family alive, we left after 1 hour. The only thing we could have done was the trolley bus tour, but that was 2.5 h roundtrip. Boat tour would have cost the family 80$ total. Are you kidding??
I visited once with my dad when I was a kid, and having visited recently, it’s no wonder that it took 20 years for me to return.
Sure, sure. If you live in an area devoid of natural wonders, your mind will be blown. But here in the Pacific NW, where there is no shortage of such things, something has to be much more grand than blue water in a big hole.
Death Valley National Park
Don’t waste your time!! I have lived in places ranging from by the ocean to the desert, and I have to say this is the ugliest place I have ever seen. Most deserts at least have some color to them, creating their own special beauty, not here, there is a bit of color near the entrance, and a tiny bit inside, otherwise… I paid $20 for nothing but nasty rock and salt, and It didn’t help that the trip started out by dealing with an oh so wonderful park ranger who had clearly spent too many hours in the 120 degree weather. I will admit, when you make it to badwater and see the sign for sea level, that’s pretty cool, but for me, that’s where it ended. You can find the exact same things in other places, and generally, they do it better. Being a Californian and paying up the wazoo for taxes and higher rates on my water because we don’t have any, I was especially happy to walk out, after my encounter with Mr. Park Ranger, and see what, NICE GREEN GRASS, in one of the hottest places on earth. I have no issues paying fees for national or state parks, but I could have done a lot better putting my money towards something else.
If you like the heat and barrenness landscapes…this park is for you!! But for I?, It’s not my cup of tea by any stretch of the means.
Dry Tortugas National Park
This is something you need not actually see, but would be better advised to read about it or watch a clip on YouTube. Hot HOT and HOTTER is all I can say. You get there and all you do is walk around and say wt heck are we doing here. It is an old prison and I felt like I was in prison, couldn’t wait to get on the 4 hour boat ride back to KW.
Everglades National Park
I was so excited to hit the trails early this morning! We drove all the way to flamingo recreation area and then got out to look around. We have never seen so many mosquitoes in our lives. We ran back to the car and tried the next trail even worse! No seriously attacked by hundreds and we were covered in bug spray. Then we tried the next loop trail and we were attacked by these huge flys ! So sorry to give one star but hey I guess that’s the Everglades. I don’t recommend bringing children here either. They may get carried away by the bugs.
Gateway Arch National Park
BORING!!! First off, the thing is ugly as sin. It looks like half of a McDonalds logo, or a giant urinal. The museum is only mildly amusing. You’d get the same museum experience, but better at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. And going up to the top of the Arch is the worst. There is nothing to see other than St. Louis’ ugly skyline which really looks like a generic skyline out of some cheap 80’s indie movie.
Glacier National Park
Unless you hike and get to see the glaciers then I suppose this is a great park to visit BUT if you are going to drive from the west end to east [or the reverse of this direction] then brace yourself for somewhat of a downer experience. The turnouts are small and usually clogged by vehicles, leaving you with nowhere to park! Also, at the time of our visit, half of the road was closed due to snow! Well, there was no snow on the mountains and it being late June, it could not possibly have snowed there! Was there a UFO landing? Pretty fishy.
Grand Canyon National Park
Went to the Grand Canyon this past week and let me tell YOU it’s a big ole waste o time! There was dirt EVERYWHERE and the hiking trail was too long! Also where are the vending machines?? And no where to charge my phone! It’s way too deep to even see the bottom! The only thing that saved this trip where the crab enchilados we ate down the road at plaza Bonita, BEST MEXICO FOOD EVER! Grand Canyon more like grand blandyon
Whoopity do, Grand Canyon. You are a giant hole in the ground. You were caused be erosion. You don’t have roller coasters or dippin’ dots. Jeeesh. Can you say “overrated?”
Haleakalā National Park
I have no idea why anyone would rave so much about this stupid crater. We woke up at 3:30 am and drove for 2.5 hours each way to watch something that looks better on google images While freezing to death. Do yourself a favor and just google “pretty sunrise” and save yourself the disappointment. I can see how hiking up during the night to see the sunrise would be a memorable experience, but if you’re planning on driving to the top, be prepared to get super frustrated behind very slow drivers. There’s a common saying “it’s not about the end goal but about the journey” but in this case the end goal was very underwhelming but the journey sucked even more. Mahalo!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
In its current state this place does not deserve to be called a national park. So little is even accessible, it makes the St. Louis arch (which for some reason is a national park now) look like Yosemite. My girlfriend and I were hoping to get some good hiking miles in and drive the scenic drives, but we couldn’t do any of that. You can basically take a little stroll around the visitor center and that’s it. Tons of reasons are offered for the closures of various things – the shutdown, toxic gases, volcano damage, and nene habitat. I definitely don’t buy all of that. Major disappointment.
Non-caring government workers ruined my vacation. Crater region was closed due to alleged instability and earthquakes. We stayed in Volcano Village for four days and felt no tremors. Staff too lazy to update website daily, so once or twice a week they post on Facebook bragging about how wonderful the other side of the park is or offering hope there might be a public lava viewing area set up in the disaster zone. No way that was ever close to happening. I had to spend a $1,000 for a boat tour to see lava. Facebook said rangers would be at the village Art Centerr and Hilo Discovery center; but when? What hours? All the time?
Hot Springs National Park
The historical preservation is wonderful. However, the actual hot springs bath houses were something out of a horror film. The notion of so many people coming to bathe together in a steamy bath house with those who were ill with typhoid fever, syphillus, and other ailments, is unsettling. Combine that with electro hydrotherapy of yesteryear and it makes for a scary experience. Please note, the preservation is very good and the facility is very clean. The docents are very knowledgable and helpful. The film they show is VERY dated. It’s almost embarrassing that it is still used at a a National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park
What a rip off, 30$ to see bunch of rocks and cactus, how is the pass so high and yet people keep going, it really made my expectation high only to get disappointed, save urself the trip and go to San Bernardino forest if u r around the area. Probably more fun, unless u r a big cactus fan.
Inside the boundaries of Joshua Tree NP you will not find any of the amenities, such as restaurants or souvenir stands, that visitors would expect at other parks of national importance such as Six Flags or Disneyland. There is no cell service throughout most of the park, which is just bogus; how are you supposed to message anyone to tell them you’re in Joshua Tree? And if you try to find other ways to amuse yourself like any other normal person without internet access, like flying drones, spraypainting trees to shoot videos, or listening to music on your portable speakers, some buzzkill park ranger will come along and tell you that’s against some law. Why do they even sell those speakers at REI to begin with? And that’s in the west end of the park, with the climbers and hipsters. There’s nothing in the eastern part except coyotes and eagles and apparently some tortoises.
Kenai Fjords National Park
Took a 5 hour boat tour of Resurrection Bay and the Fjords. Most boring 5 hours of my life! Half the boat was laying across seats sleeping! I can only assume that the others who wrote glowing reviews for this would be excited at watching grass grow because this tour was in line with that! My 80 year old father my brother 49 son 21 and myself 53 all could not wait to get off that boring boat ride! They told us once we got on the boat you rarely see whales or other sea life. Instead of spending $70 on this tour send me $35 and I’ll come over to your place and hit you up side the head with a 2×4!
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon Road is NOT for the faint hearted. This is one scary road, and there are NO guard rails or retaining walls. Too many sharp turns and the road is not well maintained. The drop-off is almost vertically at the side of the road, We turned back after about 2 miles. The scenery is not very good either. The foliage is all dead and brown, some area’s burned black. I imagine it looked pretty before the drought wasted everything. I’m not sure what the draw is to ths area. It looks like a desert.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
good views!! but the volcano was false I literally walked into the volcano!! three days later the smell won’t leave my Nostrils!!
Mammoth Cave National Park
My husband and I were looking forward to visiting Mammoth Cave for sometime. I made reservations online and purchased our tickets. The day arrived and we were on our way…about a 2 hour drive. As we entered the cave we were filled with much excitement. That lasted about the 189 steps it took to be in the cave. 4 miles of cement slabs, the snow ball cafe was a joke. The so called snow balls looked like a melting mess that had car exhust all over it. Not one formation until the end which was the Frozen Niagra and that wasn’t that great. 5 years ago we tried to take the tour but did not have reservations so we never got in. We wound up at Diamond Caverns. That’s the place you need to go, it was worth it! Very beautiful and just long enough not to be bored.
Just say no to caves! Took the Cleveland Tour. Basically it was 2 hours of sheer terror! It’s cold, dark, damp and stinky! Can’t believe there’s a fee to tour this cave!
Mount Rainier National Park
This place could destroy Seattle and cause a lot of destruction and chaos. 1 star. Not a fan.
Olympic National Park
Beautiful park, but the park service employees kept on making dumbing rules like how many friends we can have.
Petrified Forest National Park
I did a double take looking at the positive reviews of this place. Really?!!
It’s a long, unimpressive drive to an unimpressive place. We were shocked that this was a national park. It’s basically a desert with some dead trees. There were some pull outs that had a couple polished trees that were interesting, but not worth the drive. We found it amusing that we were instructed not to take any petrified wood. Then, there were multiple stores selling massive quantities of the petrified wood!
Once you get past the visitor center, you’ll be lucky if you see any petrified wood. I understand that it’s a defunct forest, but I at least expected to see petrified trees laying everywhere. We were hoping as we were driving that it would get better, but it doesn’t. It’s just desert…
Rocky Mountain National Park
drove a good deal of the way, then turned around when a panic attack set in. I have driven a lot of high switchbacks, but this road was created by people who hate people. No guard rails? why? Went to Bear Lake and kissed the flat ground.
Sequoia National Park
This place is dangerous. There are bears, mountain lions and worst of all, sketchy people. Hide your wives, hide your kids, hide your husbands, because they will come they your window. I have spent countless nights all over this park and i am never not disappointed. There are bugs and stuff, and they will bite you on your face. They are really hands off when it comes to tourism. They don’t even offer a helicopter tour. Do they not want to make money? Anyways if I could give this place zero stars I would, for the sole reason of only have two vending machines. I have checked the entire park. The Mt. Goddard recreation area has exactly 0 vending machines for at least a 5 mile radius, maybe more. You might not be surprised but there is no way to order a pizza either .
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
I guess we were looking for a National Park named after Theodore Roosevelt, instead we found one named after Marcel Ledbetter. No showers, paint peeling off most everything that’s painted, bathrooms although flush-able smell worse than vault toilets. As for animals, I think they haul the two buffalo around to different viewing points for the tourists to take pictures of. I hate to write reviews like this, but this park does not come close to most state parks when it comes to amenities
There once was a wealthy eastern kid who wanted to shoot a buffalo. He came here to do it. Years later, he was elected president. When he died, politicians wanted to name a park after him. They eventually decided on this location, as TR said that killing a buffalo here was really important to his career path. It helped that the government had bought a bunch of depleted farm land here from broke farmers during the Great Depression and weren’t sure what else to do with it. Does this sound like the backstory for a National Park, a jewel of our public lands programs, to you? Me neither.
Yellowstone National Park
I would give it 0 starts if I could. I’ve traveled all across the States and this is by far the worst place I’ve been so far. I think it may have to do more with personal preference and values but here’s what’s up. So the park itself is nothing grand there’s mountains, trees, and lakes. Nothing too spectacular. The one thing that makes this place different from other parks is the geysers. I was extremely underwhelmed. They look SO much better in the pictures. If you want a similar look just boil a pot of water at home. Another issue is the lack of cell phone service there is little to absolutely no service. Wifi is available in SELECT areas of the park and for 24 hours of this slow service you have to pay 12 dollars. I mean come on, are you kidding me? 12 dollars??? The food here sucks. The hot lunches at my school are better and that in itself is just sad. I have refused to eat several times on this trip due to lack of variety and taste. If you do decide to come here for god knows what reason, please come with your friends NOT your family. You’re going to be stuck in a prehistoric world with nothing to do and annoying tourists left and right so you might as well come with people you like. Honestly though, save yourself some money and boil some water at home. Please.
Yosemite National Park
This is the biggest scam of a national park I’ve ever witnessed. You have to pay $35 just to get In and then it’s an hour of driving before you get to anything worthwhile. The views on the drive up are the same as in the park. My family and I will NOT be returning to this disgrace of a national park anytime soon. Very disappointed
Bugs! Smokey air! Green stuff and dirt everywhere! The outside world is so terrible. I’d rather spend all of my days couped up in a glass box than go here again. If I were you, stay at the awanee and then get out of dodge. We didn’t even see any bears on our visit – how lame is that.
Utterly horrible place. No McDonalds on every corner, no casinos or pawn shops anywhere in sight. Trees block views and too many grey rocks. No concierge or valet parking. Just forget about this place…
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Jennifer has been obsessed with national parks as a child. This Tennessee native spent her childhood exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and traveling with her parents to National Parks and around the Caribbean. She is always planning her next adventure and is ready to see the world while trying to visit all 59 National Park (*She is ignoring the hunk of concrete that just became a national park).