PUBLIC LANDS – More than 305 million people visited national parks in 2015, an increase of 12 million from the visitation record set the previous year.
“The increasing popularity of our national parks comes as we are actively reaching out to new audiences and inviting them to explore the depth and breadth of the national park system,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
NPS, which is celebrating its centennial year in 2016, oversees 409 parks across 84 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories.
To cope with increasing numbers of people, park visitors can:
- Plan their trips to avoid peak crowds by visiting the most popular parks in spring and fall.
- Visit or be active in the park early in the morning or later in the day.
- Use shuttles available in some parks including Yosemite and Glacier and Acadia.
- Make more use of walking trails that ease visitors from congestion in most parks.
- Make campground and accommodations reservations in advance at www.recreation.gov.
“Even with record breaking visitation, visitors can still find quiet places in the parks for those willing to seek them out,” Jarvis said. “I can take you to Yosemite Valley on the Fourth of July and within five minutes get you to a place where you are all alone.”
Much of the 4 percent increase in national park visitation last year is the result of the National Park Foundation’s “Find Your Park” media campaign. The campaign has sparked interest from travelers and also from communities near national parks, state tourism agencies and Congress.
In late December 2015, Congress approved a 9 percent funding increase for the National Park Service, which will help the agency continue to provide keep up with services as visitation increases.