Sometimes called “America’s Backyard,” the National Parks provide a crucial service to Americans and visitors to the states: access to the great outdoors. But while most of us treasure our time hiking the trails, spotting wildlife, and camping out under the stars, America’s National Parks aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. From complaints about the crowds to diatribes against less than ideal weather, here are 15 hilariously bad reviews of the National Parks in honor of the National Park Service centennial this year.
1. “HOT AND CARSICK INDUCING.”
From its ancient sequoias to the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park has long been celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes. But one Yelp reviewer was more concerned with the weather—and the long mountain roads—than the scenery. “Ok, yes this place is absolutely stunning in its magnificence,” she concedes, “but I am reviewing the experience. It was very hot during our time there. Between 90-100 degrees. The drives up and down the mountain are long, often slow, somewhat treacherous, hot and carsick inducing.”
2. “THEY BOAST ABOUT THEIR ELK BUT THEY USHER YOU AWAY FROM THE ELK.”
Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee receives more visitors each year than any other National Park. But it’s not just the most popular—it’s also renowned for its sprawling mountains and diverse plant and animal life. While most visitors are content to view the park’s black bears, white tailed deer, coyotes, and elk from afar, one Yelp reviewer (who really wanted to see some elk) thought the park should have let him get closer to the animals. “Park staff, including volunteers, actively keep you away from the wild life so you can't get a look at anything,” he wrote. “They boast about their elk but they usher you away from the elk and don't allow you in the areas of the park where the elk are so you don't get to enjoy them.” That visitor was apparently not aware that elk are big animals that can be pretty dangerous.
3. “WE HARDLY SAW ANY JOSHUA TREES!”
In Joshua Tree National Park in California, visitors can watch gorgeous sunsets across the desert, search for desert tortoises, and sleep outside amongst the park’s famous joshua trees. But according to one Yelp reviewer, the park just does’t have enough of its eponymous trees. “The most underwhelming national park I've ever been to,” she wrote. “Problem: WE HARDLY SAW ANY JOSHUA TREES! Yes...while in the park. In fact, we only began to see loads of joshua trees outside the park as we drove through Joshua Tree, CA.” Though she did concede the desert scenery was "pretty," she made sure to note that "you can go all over the Southwest for that."
4. “THEY CHARGE FOUR DOLLARS FOR MICROWAVED BURGER.”
Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is home to the longest cave system in the world, stretching some 400 miles. But, for this Yelp reviewer, the magnificent caves were overshadowed by the park’s mediocre burgers. “The worst national Park I've ever been to,” he wrote. “My buddy really want to try the restaurant here and figures it's close [sic] for renovations so we had to go to the campground little café thing to get some food and they charge four dollars for microwaved burger. That's were pretty much started on a bad experience.” The reviewer noted that the burger wasn’t the only issue he had with Mammoth Cave: While he had no complaints about the caves, themselves, he was “very upset” when a park ranger asked him not to take photographs with a tripod.
5. “IT WAS A DISGUSTING SEA OF THE WORST OF HUMANITY.”
Zion National Park is beloved for its waterfalls, red cliffs, and hanging gardens—but it might be a little too popular for some visitors. “We just returned from here and it was a disgusting sea of the worst of humanity,” wrote one dissatisfied Yelp reviewer. “Picture a bunch of fraternity and sorority folks at Six Flags or Disney World and you will get an idea of what Zion is truly like in the summer… Seriously, Zion is way too over crowed and basically ruined by all of the visitors.”
6. “I FOUND IT LONELY.”
While negative reviews of the National Parks frequently focus on overcrowding, one disappointed visitor to Big Bend National Park in Texas encountered the opposite problem. “I visited Big Bend National Park last year around Labor Day weekend. I thought there'd be lot of visitors and tourists but I was wrong. The park was empty!” He wrote. “I found it lonely.”
7. “THE GRAND CANYON? A HOLE. A VERY, VERY LARGE HOLE.”
While most of us feel a sense of awe when we encounter the Grand Canyon (which at its widest spans 18 miles), not everyone is so impressed. “Once you have been to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon is a joke, and I'm an Arizona native. There are no animals, no greenery, no clear blue streams... just a muddy river, rock, and sheer cliffs,” one Yelp reviewer explained. “You'll go ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ for 30 seconds, and then feel guilty that you're ready to leave after that.” At Yellowstone, he wrote, he'd seen buffalos face off against a wolf trying to steal a calf and hiked near elks. “And at the Grand Canyon? A hole. A very, very large hole.”
8. “LIKE CALLING A GARBAGE DUMP A TEMPLE.”
Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is named for the ancient fossilized wood that can be found across its more than 200,000 acres. The park, which contains hundreds of archaeological sites, was once home to some of North America’s earliest inhabitants. But while the park is undeniably packed with important artifacts, one Yelp reviewer wasn’t happy that the petrified wood had been moved around by humans over the years. “PFNP is like a museum that's been vandalized over thousands of years but was suddenly declared sacrosanct this past century, like calling a garbage dump a temple,” he wrote. “Petrified wood is terrifically interesting, but this littering and arrangement—almost all of it probably dragged about by our fellow man over millennia—doesn't constitute much of a park, despite all the creative site names.”
9. “FOR GODS SAKE, CAN’T YOU FUND A CAN OF PAINT TO PAINT THE RAILINGS?”
Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park is the largest archaeological preserve in the United States, featuring thousands of archaeological sites and nearly 600 cliff dwellings. But while that’s all great, wouldn’t it be nice if they’d take the time to spruce up their railings and signs a bit? One Yelp reviewer explained that it was tough to appreciate the ruins when the park, itself, was in such need of a new coat of paint. “COME ON!! This is a National Park! For gods sake, can't you fund a can of paint to paint the railings, or find the cash to put up signs at the turn outs where there is now just hanging chains?” He wrote. “At many of the self guided sites the informational signage was completely unreadable! Scratched out or faded out beyond legibility. How are we to appreciate what we are looking at when we can't read about it?”
10. “AS NATIONAL PARKS GO THIS IS BARGAIN BASEMENT.”
Visitors have been splashing around in the steamy spring waters (which were once believed to have medicinal qualities) in Arkansas's Hot Springs National Park for hundreds of years. But one Yelp reviewer wasn’t impressed by the tiny National Park’s “vibe.” “As National Parks go this is the bargain basement,” he wrote. “The staff of the center were great but the whole vibe is quite subdued.”
11. “WE CAN’T STAND THE RIDICULOUS SHOWER RULES.”
While this reviewer says he loves Montana's Glacier National Park, the state of the showers there was bad enough for him to drop his Yelp rating down to two stars. “Time to get real, National Park Service,” he wrote. “If you can't provide a hot shower for campers around the clock, maybe we need to outsource your jobs to a private company that puts customer service first. Lose the attitude and fix the showers.”
12. “THOSE TOILETS BECOME A PUBLIC EYESORE.”
Meanwhile, another Yelp reviewer was less than impressed with the amenities at Yellowstone National Park. “The public toilets at many scenic spots inside Yellow Stone are too FILTHY to use. Those toilets become a public eyesore in sharp contract to the breathtaking scenery of the Park,” the reviewer wrote. “It's time public toilets at Yellow Stone be remodeled and improved in the best interest of the visiting public.”
13. “USED TO BE MUCH CHEAPER.”
Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park spans more than 480 square miles and features amazing hiking, fishing, and camping. But one visitor didn’t think all of that was worth the $30 entrance fee. “$30 to get in....Are you kidding me!” He wrote. “They raised the prices! What? Is the road paved with gold or something to make it that expensive. The visitors center is very cool but that's as far as I'll go. I won't give this place my business on account of them deciding to raise the prices. Used to be much much cheaper.”
14. “JUST SOMETHING TO LOOK AT AND THEN LEAVE.”
Oregon's Crater Lake National Park is home to Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States. But just being a massive 6-mile long, 1900-foot deep lake formed by the collapse of a volcano isn’t enough to impress everyone. “Lake is gorgeous,” conceded one unimpressed Yelp reviewer, before comparing the lake to another, equally underwhelming National Park. “But it reminds me of the Grand Canyon. Just something to look at and then leave. And way overcrowded.”
15. “I DIDN’T SEE WHAT THE BIG DEAL WAS.”
The 244,000 acres of prairie that make up South Dakota's Badlands National Park are home to bison, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs—as well as the fossils of ancient rhinoceroses and land turtles. But one Yelp reviewer was unmoved by the scenery, and frustrated with the lack of cell phone service. “I didn't see what the big deal was. We drove a million years to see some semi impressive rock formations?” She wrote. “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.”
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