Wednesday, February 18, 2015

National Parks Draw Record-Breaking Crowds in 2014

Visitation at America’s national parks broke all-time records in 2014, as the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2016 with a major push to encourage more visitors to experience their national parks in 2016. In 2014, there were 292.8 million visits to national parks, breaking the previous record set in 1999 when parks saw just over 287.1 million visits.

“As the National Park Service strives to share a more inclusive and well-rounded version of the American story through the places we care for, it is gratifying to see more people than ever coming to their national parks to enjoy nature, learn about history, and spend time with their families,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “As we look ahead to our centennial in 2016, I am looking forward to announcing a new record-breaking number of visitors coming to experience national parks next year and beyond.”

The official number of recreational visits to national parks in 2014 was 292,800,082 – an increase of 19 million, or seven percent, from 2013 visitation of 273,630,895. Visitation in 2014 rebounded from a 2013 decline that included a 16-day government shutdown and many park closures for repairs after Superstorm Sandy hit the northeast in late 2012.

“Visitor spending in the communities near national parks supports hundreds of thousands of mostly local jobs in America year after year,” Jarvis said. “With this record visitation we should see something on the order of $15 billion in visitor spending, 250,000 or more jobs and a $28 billion effect on the U.S. economy when our annual economics of national parks report comes out in April.”

Several national parks saw record-breaking visitation in 2014, including Joshua Tree, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton and Glacier national parks. The re-opening of the Washington Monument, some 21 months after it was rocked by an earthquake and repaired, also added to 2014 visitation numbers.

Of the 405 parks in the national park system, 369 of them track visitors, and the top 28 most visited parks accounted for half of 2014 visitation and half of the increase in visits between 2013 and 2014.

Grand Canyon National Park bumped Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area out of the top 10 most visited areas in the national park system. The list of top ten national parks remains unchanged, although Rocky Mountain and Olympic National Parks switched places.

Here are the top 10 most visited places in the National Park System:

Golden Gate National Recreation Area 15,004,420
Blue Ridge Parkway 13,941,749
Great Smoky Mountains National Park 10,099,276
George Washington Memorial Parkway 7,472,150
Lincoln Memorial 7,139,072
Lake Mead National Recreation Area 6,942,873
Gateway National Recreation Area 6,021,713
Natchez Trace Parkway 5,846,474
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park 5,066,219
Grand Canyon National Park 4,756,771

Here are the top 10 most visited national parks: 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park 10,099,276
Grand Canyon National Park 4,756,771
Yosemite National Park 3,882,642
Yellowstone National Park 3,513,484
Rocky Mountain National Park 3,434,751
Olympic National Park 3,243,872
Zion National Park 3,189,696
Grand Teton National Park 2,791,392
Acadia National Park 2,563,129
Glacier National Park 2,338,528



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
HikinginGlacier.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

2 comments:

Danny Bernstein said...

The Smokies rule. Isn't it wonderful?
Part of the reason that Golden Gate beats out the Blue Ridge Parkway is that Golden Gate is a year-round park, and the parkway is very seasonal.

Danny

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Absolutely!

With regards to the BRP (and to a lesser extent the Smokies), many of those visitors aren't really park visitors, but rather people who are simply using the road to go from point A to point B. To what extent that number is, I don't know, but I can say that the numbers are artificially inflated, and make for apples to oranges comparisons when comparing against other parks.