A poll conducted by YouGov in 2022 finds that majorities of Americans hold a favorable opinion of the National Park Service (NPS) and believe that it is well-managed. Three-fourths say they view the NPS favorably, with 41% saying their opinion is very favorable and 34% saying it is somewhat favorable. Only 4% of people have a somewhat unfavorable opinion of the NPS, and just 2% have a very unfavorable opinion. The remaining 19% aren’t sure.
The NPS receives significantly higher net ratings (+69) — meaning the share of people who view it favorably, minus the share who view it unfavorably — than most other government agencies polled within the past year — including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (+10), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (+13), and others. It fares similarly to branches of the military, including the Army (+64), Navy (+66), and Marines (+66).
Views of the NPS vary based on education level, race, age, and political affiliation. People with a college or postgraduate degree hold more favorable views of the NPS relative to people with a high school degree or less. Additionally, white Americans hold more favorable views of the NPS compared to Black or Hispanic Americans. Older Americans also have more favorable opinions of the NPS than younger Americans, with 56% of people 65 and older having a very favorable opinion compared to only 27% of 18- to 29-year-olds.
One reason Americans may feel warmly towards the NPS is because they believe the agency does a good job managing the nation's parks. When asked about the overall management of national parks in the U.S., 27% of Americans say they are very well-managed, while 44% say they are somewhat well-managed. Just 6% say they are somewhat poorly managed, and 3% say they are very poorly managed.
Another possible reason for the popularity of national parks is their public-facing nature. While many government bureaucrats don't get much face time with everyday Americans, that isn't the case for national parks: 40% of Americans say they've met a national park ranger at some point in their lives.
— Carl Bialik and Linley Sanders contributed to this article
Methodology: This poll was conducted online on September 26 - 29, 2022 among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel using sample matching. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to March 15, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 28% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 4%.
Image: Adobe Stock (Greg Pickens)