The 17 Best Bad Reviews of National Parks on Yelp

The air’s too fresh! I can see too far! Wait, it’s so dirty! Ew, there’s bugs! What’s that smell?!


Meh. It's nothing but a big hole in the ground.

“Meh.”

National parks are for everyone — or at least that’s what you’d think if you’ve ever been to Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, or Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a busy weekend. Alas, they’re not.

We noticed that a few Yelp users have some issues with America’s Best Idea — the parks are boring, or crowded, or all the good stuff is way too far from the car. And we think some of their comments are funny, so we combed Yelp for the “best” of the one-star, two-star, and three-star reviews. Grand Canyon National Park received a very high percentage of the vitriol, for some reason. Probably because it is really just, as one Yelper put it, “a great big hole.” Here are our favorites:

Grand Canyon National Park
“The reason I give Grand Canyon National Park only one star as a National Park is that pretty much all of the really awesome things you could potentially do in the Grand Canyon are basically off-limits for a day tripper…I just don’t understand why they won’t build a road, aerial tramway, elevator, or SOMETHING that gives easier access to the canyon’s depths. To people who say that building anything would ruin the Grand Canyon, I would say this – did building a road into Yosemite Valley ruin Yosemite?”

Joshua Tree National Park
“In my own experience, I wouldn’t come back here. I don’t know how you go a day without showering if you’re spending time at the desert.”

Mount Rainier National Park
“This place was the worst!!! I’m not saying it wasn’t pretty, but it makes me remember an episode of the Cosby show where Vanessa is engaged to someone and Bill Cosby says that it was like a juicy piece of steak presented on a trash can lid. That’s what this place was. Mount Rainier served on a trash can lid.”

Grand Canyon National Park
“As amazing as the views are it is really kind of boring. Every 500 ft a new vantage point of the same thing: a really big hole in the ground. Don’t get me wrong, the canyon is amazing. What would be better is a guided tour of the canyon from open-air view trams via a very long (much longer than exists) rim side roadway. What would also be nice is Segway rentals, but I know the reason why this isn’t done is because someone would inevitably drive off the edge of the canyon to their death.”

Yellowstone
“When we got out of the car, the smell of sulfur nearly knocked my girlfriend off her feet and the stench followed us through the day as it clung to our clothes and hair.”

Grand Canyon National Park
“Whatever you do, be warned that there are no barriers around the edges which fall about 300-900 feet into the depths of the Canyon. Do not take pictures or have pictures taken of yourself without being serious. Do not hover about the Canyon whilst drunk. You will fall over the edge and you will die. Be warned in advance that 60 people have fell over the edge and, in 20 instances, people were posing for or taking pictures while hovering on a rock close to the edge.”

Rocky Mountain National Park
“We went up Sunday 9/11 to see the elk bugle. Because of all the elk fences now in Horseshoe Park there were NO elk there period. Are you kidding me a fall rut season and no elk in Horseshoe Park? Then we went over by Beaver Meadows, more fences and few elk there either.”

Grand Canyon National Park
“Look, the Grand Canyon is a very beautiful place. I loved the sights there. But I was bored after a few minutes. The only time I wasn’t bored was when I was standing inches from my death. There is no fence to stop you from falling thousands of feet to the bottom. You could actually stumble and die.”

Arches National Park
“I’ve been to a lot of national parks and this one was over-hyped in my opinion. Arches is no Yosemite.”

Grand Canyon National Park
“After driving and driving for about 50 mins, you enter the Grand Canyon to find TADA: A great big hole. Personally I don’t know how I feel about the grand canyon. When I first saw it, I will admit that I was not awed. After walking around and even attempting to get close to the edge (yes there are areas where there are no fences or gates to reinforce the perimeter) I became overwhelmed for the sheer fact knowing that a tiny burst of wind could plummet my body to sheer disintegration.”

Olympic National Park
“I’ve seen a lot better. Try going to Utah. You will be blown away by the parks there.”

Denali National Park
“If you are looking for real adventure, skip Denali.”

Grand Canyon National Park
“At first, I was amazed at the scale and grandeur of the Grand Canyon. The views along the 277-mile-long chasm are nothing short of awe-inspiring. But then it hit me: it all looks the same. There are various lookout points and interesting exhibits in the park, but I couldn’t help but get bored of seeing a giant trench in the ground. There is very little variation and few features.”

Grand Canyon National Park
“The one day that I had to spend at the Grand Canyon was flooded with fog. We could not see a thing. I would not have known there was a canyon there, had I not been told. I was disappointed that although I got there at 4:30 pm and there was zero visibility, the park continued to collect the $25 dollar fee per car.”

Arches National Park
“Really pretty and dramatic in some vista spots, such as Park Avenue, but to get anywhere close to an arch or two you have to be up for some serious hiking. Most disappointing, this should be clearly noted in the Park literature.”

Canyonlands National Park
“If you have seen the Grand Canyon, it is not clear why you would need to make the three hour round trip drive from hwy 191 and back to see Canyonlands. This park is similar but 10 times wider and flatter.”

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.”

Photo by Revo_1599/Flickr

Brendan Leonard is a contributing editor to Adventure Journal. Follow him at his blog, Semi-Rad.
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Showing 67 comments
  • Jaeden
    Reply

    Some folks just don’t get it… which is probably a good thing, because otherwise the parks would be SO crowded, and everyone knows what a drag a crowded park can be. They should make a big fence somewhere to keep all the crowds out. All I know is there are no crowds where I go…no sir…can’t have folks getting pushed over the edge…and into the fence.
    Damn right!

  • Stacey
    Reply

    I couldn’t agree more with Jaeden above, some people just do not “Get it” – and thank goodness. I was laughing at the hilarity of the comment about Denali National Park – I mean it’s an adventure just GETTING to Denali. Americans are so spoiled with these parks that look the same from every vantage point – and even worse… I mean places where there are no FENCES- what were we thinking!!???

    • Kelly
      Reply

      I agree with you Stacey, and I’m an American. Why spoil the beautiy of the scenery with a fence or an elevator, much less a visitor’s center building to get silly souvenirs? When you enter a national park, YOU accept the risk of nature. I can’t believe there’s even lawsuits surrounding people getting killed by falling trees!

      If you travel to any national park or famous landmark outside the US the majority of them don’t even have safety barriers or fences…and you know what…the pictures looked that much more beautiful.

      • Zach
        Reply

        Denali is one of the least wild places in Alaska. It might be not seem that way to somebody not from Alaska, but it is crowded, built up, and highly regulated even compared to the other national parks in Alaska. You will be able to see some wildlife, some good scenery, and experience some semblance of solitude if you go into the backcountry (in your allocated “zone”), but it’s definitely not where I would send somebody interested in real wilderness and adventure. I actually like Denali for what it is, but that comment wasn’t totally off in my opinion.

    • Leslie
      Reply

      Agreed! Denali is probably my favorite over Yosemite and Grand Canyon (which were also spectacular in their own rights). Denali is insanely beautiful and undisturbed and totally awe inspiring! We saw dozens of dall ram, bears, moose, and everything in between. I love that its not so easy to access and they don’t let people just do whatever the heck they want. It gives you the ultimate feel of being with the animals in their land. exactly how it should be.

    • Frank
      Reply

      Needs restaurants, water, restrooms, and parking structures. You don’t get anything for your 30 dollars; they are called improvements for a reason.

  • ABomb
    Reply

    “…did building a road into Yosemite Valley ruin Yosemite?” Are you f-ing kidding me???? Some people don’t get it.

    I’m not suprised a lot of the comments are about the Grand Canyon. If you just come to look at it from the rim I can understand how it gets old fast. It’s true that most of the “awesome things” require you to do overnight trips into the canyon. That’s one of the reasons that makes the Grand Canyon one of the best parks in the country. J/K, the Grand Canyon sucks, don’t come here….

  • Bob Schmidt
    Reply

    If they were to take one of your dory/raft trips down the canyon you would not see posts like this. This has to be one of the most amazing places in the world. You just can’t get a full appreciation of it looking in from the top.

    • Mr Fiz
      Reply

      ^^ Truth ^^

  • morbore
    Reply

    i guess that’s why they make all those National Geographic tv shows. way easier to get a better view of a national park from an HD tv and actually going there.

  • John Rempe
    John Rempe
    Reply

    Edward Abbey is laughing…wherever he is…

    • Sparky
      Reply

      Or trying to blow up the internet.

  • John Rempe
    John Rempe
    Reply

    Edward Abbey is laughing…wherever he is…

  • Matt Cave
    Reply

    As soon as I saw the title of this article, I knew it had to be Brendan Leonard’s work.

  • Karin
    Reply

    April Fools? It has to be…

    • steve casimiro
      Reply

      It’s not.

  • Jason
    Reply

    I noticed that some of the negative comments compared the other parks to Yosemite. I made my first trip there a few weeks ago. I could see why everyone complained about having to get out of their cars or a lack of facilities if this is what they’re used to. They have heated bathrooms on hiking trails! I was amazed at the comforts and “Disneyland” feel to the valley. I plan to go back and explore some of the more remote areas and, hopefully, elude the crowds.

  • happy hiker
    Reply

    Can’t please everyone. lol.

  • Nick
    Reply

    Not mentioned above are if the parks do take-out, have wait service, or offer a Brunch menu. Is outdoor seating available? How about wi-fi? Might there be bugs? These Yelp reviews really let me down.

  • Eric
    Reply

    “Redwood National Park is great, don’t get me wrong, but it would be so much better if there were roads leading up the biggest trees to the top so we can get a bird’s eye view. There’s an elevator in the Space Needle, why can’t I easily get to the top of these ‘massive’ trees?”

  • The Truth
    Reply

    If anything, the internet has shown us how many idiots inhabit our planet. You probably never realized this unless you worked in a National Park.

    • ranger
      Reply

      “If anything, the internet has shown us how many idiots inhabit our planet. You probably never realized this unless you worked in a National Park.”

      Having worked for more than a decade in national parks, my experience showed me there were plenty of idiots working in national parks. The disdain rangers have for the public– their customers, without whom they would be out of a job–was incessant and staggering. Of course due to industrial tourism the public has lost touch with nature and the wild. It’s supposed to be the job of rangers to educate and facilitate, not judge and condemn their customers.

      • steenkinbadges
        Reply

        I’m an NPS ranger, too, who sees both the ridiculous and the sublime among my colleagues. Much of it is due to the hiring system for gov. employees. Most rangers do try to do a good job, but there are some I would like to see working at McDonald’s. Of course, if I saw them behind the counter, I’d leave, knowing their work habits already.

  • john
    Reply

    You’re right, they’re hilarious. But sad.

  • Larry Copenhaver
    Reply

    In Glacier… it was common for visitors to ask “when do they leave the bears out?”

    • steenkinbadges
      Reply

      Try working in a national park site in which there was a Civil War battle. I have actually hear this: “Isn’t it amazing they had all those battles in National Parks?”

    • Barry
      Reply

      15 years ago, or so, my kids spent their collegiate summers working in Yellowstone. Their favorite Tourist Talk was, “What time do they turn the geysers on in the morning?”

    • Elyse
      Reply

      I have worked in Glacier for quite a few years now and one of my favorite questions is “Where are the glaciers? How do I get to one?” It gets hard to look these people in the face knowing they are asking seriously.

  • Jerrie
    Reply

    sitting in the hot springs in Olympic National Park, a couple of women walked up and started complaining that no one had built a bridge so they didn’t have to walk so far. The guy sitting near us just stood up, facing them, stark naked. They left. Quickly.

  • alpentalic
    Reply

    Actually, those are all my reviews. I’m just trying to cut down on the crowds.

  • Kevin
    Reply

    True story, not from Yelp…

    Several years ago, after walking up the (paved) trail to the base of devil’s tower, I overheard someone say “Man! I thought there was going to be a snack bar up here!!”

  • Natalie
    Reply

    I really wish this was an April Fools joke…

  • Cheryl
    Reply

    Some people just need to limit themselves to Disneyland!

  • Tait
    Reply

    Since we commenters are sitting on our high horses (and others of us are sitting on other high things that leave more or less of a trace) it is apparently difficult to see that these Yelp reviews should not cause the elite few to rejoice. They should make us concerned. They should make us mourn. They should make us wonder about the longevity of the park system, because they are essentially a vote of no-confidence in our national treasury. I see in many of the above blog comments that we may have noble ideals about instilling a love of wild places in the next generation, as long as they stay out of our favorite places; sure, take a kid fishing, as long as he finds his own hole and doesn’t interrupt my wilderness-peace-and-quiet.

    If people do not love (or understand) our National Parks, it is not because people are dumb, or cannot figure it out; it is because we do not care enough to teach them. You see a diamond; they see a rock. Why complain about it when you have the opportunity to explain it to them? Isn’t it our responsibility to reach out our hands to help other people see beauty and live wisely? But, it takes much less effort to roll our eyes. For a group of people that is typically all about tolerance and respect, it sure doesn’t take long for us to execute some self-righteous judgment.

    • Mountainman/Cityboy
      Reply

      I definitely agree with you Tait but to be honest while it is important for people to gain an appreciation of some of our majestic treasures throughout the U.S. it is equally important that they are not heavily trampled upon. Which they already are. While grand vista’s are validated in their own right it would be better for them to serve as a jumping off point to appreciate the state parks and blm land and wilderness areas that are relatively under appreciated and under funded but could sustain more visitation. I am a “fledging” conservationist that has been working in Colorado and Alaska for the past 3 years and the damage that is caused just from 20-100 hikers passing through an area (preferably on a sustainably built trail), even when Leave No Trace principles are upheld to a high degree, can be extensive. Often is the case that some of our most prized natural assets are also our most delicate. Cryptobiotic soil in Arches and Canyon Lands national park, water quality and ecology of isle royale national park, alpine tundra/meadows in rocky mountain national park for some examples are all extremely sensitive environments. So while I agree with you that this reaction found in the yelp comments is disturbing as an indication of both intelligence, ideology and values in america, I would argue that seeking further increases in attendance for these particular places as a means to introduce the unfortunate to the wilderness, is not the answer. Honestly while I support both the idea of a casual outdoors enthusiast and a diehard backpacker, National Parks cater to desires for societal comforts enough as it is. I’d say a better way to instill a sense of love and stewardship is with local community trails/open spaces/ and education.

    • Lee
      Reply

      Some good points. However, I spend so much of my free time trying to do the things you mentioned…sometime I just want to vent and laugh you know?

  • anon
    Reply

    Anyone who reads comments on major news stories online has already realized that there are a lot of doofuses in the world, and they always have something negative to say. Sorry, hope more of these people don’t come to parks, as they are already crowded. Give a doofus a computer and access to the internet and they will quickly demonstrate their stupidity.

  • Karen Catchpole
    Karen Catchpole
    Reply

    This is classic.

  • Karen Catchpole
    Karen Catchpole
    Reply

    This is classic.

  • Jamie Money
    Reply

    I am from Flagstaff and hear a lot of flack about the Grand Canyon. People do not understand that to understand a place’s beauty you need to meet that place where it is, enter it and explore it. Standing on the rim does nothing! I think some people will never truly understand the beauty of places like Death Valley, which is beautiful in its emptiness; or the Grand Canyon, which is beautiful in its layers of rock that descend for a mile to the canyon floor. There are so many beautiful places in this world that could truly have been ruined had the National Park Service not been invented.

    Oh well, more adventure and exploration for me!

  • MCR
    Reply

    so fitting that i had just re-read abbey’s “polemic: industrial tourism and the national parks” the day before this posted….

    • Lindsey
      Reply

      that is what I was thinking while I read this, how abbey would feel about these people. good riddance I say let them rot in their cities.

  • Rhiannon Marchant
    Rhiannon Marchant
    Reply

    I can’t stop laughing at the thought of segways going over the canyon edge…a group of them. Like lemmings. Lol hahaha lol

  • Rhiannon Marchant
    Rhiannon Marchant
    Reply

    I can’t stop laughing at the thought of segways going over the canyon edge…a group of them. Like lemmings. Lol hahaha lol

  • Christina
    Reply

    “I’ve been to a lot of national parks and this one was over-hyped in my opinion. Arches is no Yosemite.” ..haha what?! Nature is all different forms of beautiful!

  • Abzug
    Reply

    Oh I loved this. I can’t stop laughing. I thought of so many Abbey quotes, especially with the complaint about Arches and how you have to walk too much to see the Arches. Didn’t he address that specifically? I admit I didn’t think much of Joshua Tree at first, but the more I go the more I think I could live there for all its beauty. I think these people just need more time there. But then, I’m sure if I wrote a yelp review of Disneyland it would sound a lot like one of these. Or worse.

  • Moe
    Reply

    Here in Oregon we have Crater Lake National Park, and I have instilled a deep love in my girls for this beautiful place. A few months ago, a tourist from the east coast was standing by us at the lodge as we looked into the crater, and said, “Eh, what’s the big deal? It’s just a hole in the ground!” My daughter who is 14 turned around and looked at him with disbelief, pointed at him and said, “You! Tourist! Out of my state!” The rest of the people around us started laughing, and one man came up and congratulated me for raising such an articulate child…. Proud mommy moment!

    • Noelle
      Reply

      I actually went to Crater Lake for the first time two summers ago, after growing up hearing stories about my mom going every year as a child. I was sort of surprised by how small it was, but still, I thought it was one of the most beautiful little lakes I’ve ever seen. I’ll never forget that particular shade of blue if I live to be 100.
      Some people just have no sense of wonder.

      • Filibuster Cash
        Reply

        The whitebark pine around the rim are small as well, but dag, they are cool! As are the Clark’s nutcrackers that disperse the trees’ seeds. So many things people miss looking for the gift shop.

      • David Oktavec
        Reply

        On Crater Lake N.P. being small. It is some 6 miles across. SMALL? Really?

        • Jason Crighton
          Reply

          Size is all relative. For you 6 miles is large, however the person from the East Coast might be used to the Great Lakes.

  • Jackie Summers
    Reply

    John Muir would puke at the sound of these comments….

  • Barry
    Reply

    Nobody could think of a bad thing to say about Glacier NP!!!

  • Hunter
    Reply

    In a way, the comment about Denali has some truth to it. If a forced bus tour with humanized wildlife is your idea of Alaska adventure…

    • David Oktavec
      Reply

      Humanized wildlife in Denali? Next time you go through on your bus tour and you spot a Griz, step off and say hello to him or her.

  • Kristy
    Reply

    I think a lot of the problems with the Grand Canyon is so many tourists are so engrossed in their own lives that they don’t see the natural beauty that surrounds them. While I was there last year, I was blessed to see a condor. It was sitting on a rock right along the rim trail at the village (VERY busy area). Their were only about 5 of us that noticed and stopped in awe while scores of people wandered by so engrossed in their conversations that they never even looked over to see what they are missing. Those are the same people that go back home and write a review about how boring the “big hole in the ground” was. If only they actually took the time to experience the places they visit it wouldn’t be so boring.

  • Zeke
    Reply

    Grand Canyon National Park
    “The one day that I had to spend at the Grand Canyon was flooded with fog. We could not see a thing. I would not have known there was a canyon there, had I not been told. I was disappointed that although I got there at 4:30 pm and there was zero visibility, the park continued to collect the $25 dollar fee per car.”

    I love this, this person saw one of the rarest phenomena you could hope to see in a national park anywhere, and they were upset about it!

  • Nick Nicholas
    Reply

    I fulfilled a long-standing dream by taking a rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon this past September. It was an *amazing* adventure. I had seen the Grand Canyon from the South Rim a few years previously. After my 8-day rafting trip, I concluded that the difference between seeing the Grand Canyon from the South Rim compared with a Colorado River trip is like the difference between reading a book about sex and actually having mind-blowing sex!

  • David Oktavec
    Reply

    Having been to some 35 or so of our National Parks, its tough for me to read such bad press about such places as Death Valley, or Arches, and the one that really had me shaking my head was Mount Rainier N.P. At over 14.4 it is intimidating to say the least. Waterfalls all over the park, giant trees oven 1000 yrs. old, trails that look like someone has swept them clean. It is my favorite, by far. I guess you would say Carlsbad Caverns is a big drop in the bucket, are you kidding me? And Big Bend with the canoe rides down the Rio, and fantastic trails and wonderful bird watching, etc. Someone out there please give me the job of rating our FANTASTIC N.P.’s

  • Scott
    Reply

    Most of these reviews are boring to read, and at least 5 of them are saying exactly the same thing about the grand canyon. Nice content… This article would at least be better if we could actually see the Yelp posts inserted. Surprised to see intelligent conversation in the comments rather than more comments like mine.

  • Mike
    Reply

    I have just recently discovered the beauty of our National Parks. I am hooked. Iv’e been to nine of them in the last three years. Definitely National Treasures. Thank you John Muir & Teddy Roosevelt. The $80 I spend on a NP Pass is money well spent. That being said, I have found you have to get out of the car and take a hike to really appreciate the parks. Just was at GSMNP last week. They get 60,000 visitors a day during the summer season of which 98% do not travel off the asphalt. We hiked over thirty miles and saw maybe a dozen or so people. The views and solitude were amazing, and we felt as if the park belonged to us for the week. My favorite NPs to date are BBNP and RMNP. Cannot wait for the next trip. I just can hope they are there for generations to come.

  • Luke
    Reply

    Read a great one for Muir Woods once:

    “3 stars. The Grand Canyon is a five star national park and Muir woods is no Grand Canyon.”

  • R MacGrath
    Reply

    Good article, 10 years in the national parks. Once heard a visitor say, “just more Indian stuff” as he exited a well appointed museum.

  • Nick
    Reply

    Thank goodness for all of these people! If it weren’t for them, the parks would be more crowded then they already are! I hope their negativity spreads to others so that those of us who do enjoy the parks can get them all to ourselves!

  • Tait
    Reply

    So that no one notices when they are defunded during times of austerity? The Parks need more love, not less. If we are happy that no one else enjoys them, they will be taken away from everyone.

  • Ted
    Reply

    Some places just shouldn’t be National Parks. Since the original great parks were created, politics has taken over and regional economic development has trumped conservation. Death Valley was better as a National Monument. Monument means basically that both the visitor and the government leave it alone. With a Park, the government is moved to optimize the benefit to the region by developing the facility, often by paving the way for 40-ft RV’s. The Pinnacles doesn’t have enough going on to have been elevated from Monument. Lassen was partially closed due to the hazard of rock fall, and really doesn’t rate Park status. By 1940 all the major National Parks had been established. All the others could have stayed Monuments.

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