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Utah's Zion outranks Yellowstone for number of visits

Published March 14, 2017 9:44 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If it seems as though your favorite national park is getting more crowded, it's not just an illusion.

The U.S. Department of Interior recently reported that 331 million people visited America's national parks, monuments, recreation areas and historic sites last year, a third consecutive attendance record.

"Our national parks are our national treasures, and it's important to recognize that they are more than just beautiful landscapes," said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. "Growing up near Glacier National Park, I understand the value these places bring to local economies and in preserving our heritage. As we enter into a second century of service and visitation numbers continue to increase, we will focus on maintenance backlogs and ensuring these special places are preserved for future generations."

While half of the visitation was recorded at 26 parks, the Department of Interior reported that visitation grew more than 10 percent in parks that see more modest annual visitation.

Of local note, Zion National Park ranked fifth on the list of the most visited national parks, behind Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Rocky Mountain, with 4,295,127 visits. That was one spot higher than Yellowstone.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco was the most visited location in the national park system, with 15.6 million visitors. Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada made the top 10 list with 7.1 million visitors.

Here are other highlights of the report, according to the NPS:

• 330,971,689 recreation visits in 2016 — up 7.7 percent or 23.7 million visits over 2015.

• 1.4 billion hours spent by visitors in parks — up 7 percent or 93 million hours over 2015.

• 15,430,454 overnight stays in parks — up 2.5 percent over 2015.

• 2,543,221 National Park campground RV overnights — up 12.5 percent over 2015.

• 2,154,698 backcountry overnights — up 6.7 percent over 2015.

• 3,858,162 national park campground tent overnights — up 4.8 percent over 2015.

• 10 million recreation visits at four parks: Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco; Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia; Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina; George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

• More than 5 million recreation visits at 12 parks (3 percent of reporting parks).

• 80 parks had more than 1 million recreation visits (21 percent of reporting parks).

• 382 of the 417 parks in the system count visitors and 77 of those parks set a record for annual recreation visits. This is about 20 percent of reporting parks.

• 4 parks were added to the statistics system and reported visitation for the first time. They added about 300,000 visits to the total.






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