Jagged peaks. Crystal blue lakes. Endless Green. Mystical mountains. Crazy rock formations. There’s only one thing it could be: America’s National Parks.
Most Visited National Parks
In 2019, 327.5 million people visited the 62 National Parks and various recreation sites across America and its territories. This was a 9 million person increase from the year before, but still short of the 330 million high seen in 2016 and 2017. Overall, from 2010 to 2019, 3.02 billion people passed through the park’s gates.
However, over the decade, it is up 46 million from 2010’s total, or a 16% increase. The 2010s were the first-decade Recreation visits passed three billion for a decade. The previous decade high was 2.724B from 1990 to 1999. The 2000s would have likely broken the prior decade’s mark, but 2002, post 9/11 and in the middle of a small recession, was abnormally low. That year saw about 50 million fewer guests than what was likely anticipated.
Most Visited in 2019
If you’re curious about how the visitation has increased since the early 1900s, this is the progression:
- 1910s – 3,304,206
- 19020s – 18,395,622
- 1930s – 84,343,983
- 1940s – 171,348,298
- 1950s – 487,055,717
- 1960s – 1,138,130,100
- 1970s – 1,857,129,469
- 1980s – 1,824,171,585
- 1990s – 2,724,364,058
- 2000s – 2,718,330,876
- 2010s – 3,024,269,788
As we enter into a new decade, our National Parks and Recreation sites will ask more of us than ever before. These outdoor playgrounds do not see the funding they should and, as we saw a couple years ago, are only a government shutdown away from being decimated. It’s on us to help keep them clean, safe, and enjoyable for those who wish to enjoy them.
With attendance set to rise this decade (though maybe not in 20120 due to COVID-19), here are some tips to maximize your trip.
Tips to fully enjoy the National Parks
- Visit in an offseason, on a weekday, or early: Example here is Arches. It is notorious for being crowded. However, when I went in late January, I basically had the park to myself. If you can’t go in an offseason, stay away from weekends. If this isn’t possible, get there as early as you can. Many of these places end up having lines that stretch for a mile.
- Get away from the tourist traps: Everyone wants to see Yosemite and Yosemite Valley – and for good reason. However, Tuolumne Meadows is amazing and doesn’t see nearly as many people as down below.
- Get there early and stay late: There’s nothing like sunrise and sunset in a National Park. Beat the crowds by getting through the gates well before the lines begin and see some sky magic at the same time. Plus, this can give you the opportunity to see the most crowded spots without the crowds.
- Go backpacking: In 2018, I and two others went backpacking in Yosemite’s Lyell Canyon, near the Tioga Pass entrance. Granted, it was October and we froze, but we saw less than 5 people the entire time. Backpacking is a perfect way to get away from the hustle and bustle of tourists and see wonderful things
- Buy the National Parks pass which is $80. If you plan to go to a National Park more than three times, this is a steal!
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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