8 Best Performing National Park Airbnb Markets
The image of Airbnb as a platform for cheap lodging alternatives in urban cities is quickly evolving. While hosts in modern metropolises certainly account for a huge portion of the company’s revenue, those in rural locations (especially hosts of a national park Airbnb) are also gaining ground.
Based on a report released by Airbnb in 2017 focusing on the U.S, the average annual income earned by a rural host was $6,776 — neck and neck with the urban figure of $6,674. Rural hosts in California, Delaware, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, New York, and Utah, on average, earn more than their urban counterparts.
So, what’s causing the shift? One potential impetus behind these changing dynamics is the growing desire for travelers to opt for the outdoors and visit the country’s national parks. In order to determine which national parks offer the best markets for vacation rental revenue and potential growth, AllTheRooms Analytics compiled data on all key performance indicators over the past two years for locations within a selected radius of each national park. Here are our findings:
Here’s some more insight on Vacation Rental Investment: How to Analyze a Short Term Market
Great Smoky Mountains, NC
Interesting fact: North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountain National Park is actually the most visited park in the United States. Not Yosemite, not Yellowstone — the Great Smoky Mountains.
Unsurprisingly, the towns surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park perform well among the vacation rental market. For the calendar year of 2018, the park ranked first in terms of total revenue earned, amounting to over $203 million. With 3,686 average properties, that comes out to above $55,000 in revenue per host for 2018. ADR hovered around $250, and occupancy rates averaged 61%.
One of the reasons behind the impressive numbers is the park’s relatively low seasonality — many outdoor enthusiasts visit the park year-round rather than only during specific months. Some of the most idyllic (and profitable) mountain towns in the vicinity include Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Townsend, Cherokee, and Bryson City.
Grand Teton National Park, WY
Located in Wyoming, just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone, is the rugged, jagged-peaked Grand Teton. While the towns of Moran, Moose, and Teton Village serve as the gateway entrances to the park, most of the best picturesque log cabin-style accommodations are to the west, just on the other side of the Idaho border.
In 2018, Grand Teton reeled in nearly $40 million in revenues, maintained an extremely high ADR over $461, and held an impressive RevPar of $210. With only 530 active listings in the surrounding radius, Grand Teton National Park is an example of a low-supply, high-demand market.
Ranking third on our list is Zion, Utah’s most sought-after national park located in the southwestern part of the state. The towns located around Zion — Springdale being the most popular — do well in terms of Airbnb rentability. During 2018, the region earned over $38 million due to the large number of properties and the relatively low RevPAR at $82. Unlike most other national parks, ADRs in Zion are actually highest in the fall months of October and November.
Joshua Tree, CA
Separate from its category as a national park, Joshua Tree consistently ranks among the top places for vacation rental investment. The Southern California destination is just a few hours from San Diego and Los Angeles while also being close to Palm Springs and Big Bear Lake.
Joshua Tree sees its highest numbers in the spring months before the desert heat settles in. Even with this heavy seasonality, the region experiences a respectable year-round ADR of $174 per night and equally notable gross revenue numbers over $36 million.
Rocky Mountain, CO
Colorado’s mountainous national park also deserves recognition when listing the most profitable locations for outdoor-themed vacation rentals. Rocky Mountain National Park ranks fifth in terms of gross revenue earned in 2018 (just under $35 million), sixth in terms of ADR ($254), and sixth in terms of RevPAR ($132).
Even though Rocky Mountain National Park is somewhat close to both Denver and Boulder, towns in its immediate vicinity are scarce — hence the limited supply of Airbnbs here. For 2018 the region only averaged 818 active listings. The town of Estes Park is the most popular Rocky Mountain destination and is often considered the gateway to the park.
Located just five hours northeast of Zion is Arches, another one of Utah’s ecological gems. The desert oasis has a few bustling communities around its perimeter that have been attracting travelers for decades. Places like Moab are reasons why Arches’ regional statistics are worth considering: in 2018, ADRs climbed over $207, occupancy rates were an impressive 57%, and the gross revenue earned by hosts crept beyond $18 million. Not bad for a place essentially in the middle of the desert.
The towns of El Portal, Lee Vining, Midpines, and Mariposa all provide excellent lodging options for those looking to visit Yosemite without staying in the park itself. While the towns aren’t luxurious by any means, they boast a selection of log cabins with chic ruggedness that do well in the vacation rental market. Yosemite region ADRs reached the low $300s from June to August of 2018, making it a close second to Grand Teton. The low booked percentage (41%) is due to the region’s high seasonal elasticity, but gross revenue numbers (nearly $20 million) show that hosts are still substantially benefitting. As for Yosemite’s 2019 numbers, April and May have already showed incredibly year-on-year growth: $350 and $353 ADRs for those respective months are up 15% and 12% (respectively) from the prior year.
Maine’s national park of Acadia wraps up our list of the best national parks for Airbnbs. The region lays claim to under 1,000 active listings, but those listings perform exceptionally well. Occupancy rate is low (mainly due to the wintertime weather in Maine), but RevPAR stays above $214 for the year’s average, and the gross revenue of $25 million is enough for eighth best in the country. Summer is definitely the optimal time for the area’s best vacation rental performance, however, fall seasonality during late August, September, and October also performs well.