“Revenge travel” indeed. As tourists venture out after a punishing year of pandemic-related restrictions, U.S. national parks are feeling the effects, dealing with swarming crowds and a record number of visitors.
To curb overcrowding and waiting times, Yosemite National Park in California, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and Glacier National Park in Montana have instituted reservation systems. Some parks, like Acadia National Park in Maine, had reservation systems in place before the pandemic.
“This season, national parks are already bustling,” the National Park Service said in a statement. “Like lots of places you go this year, we may not yet be able to offer the past level of service as we emerge from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”
In Utah’s Arches National Park, rangers have had to close the gates before 9 a.m. due to overcrowding, according to the Wall Street Journal. About 194,000 visitors flocked to Arches National Park in April, an increase of 15% from April 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal. The park was closed in April 2020 because of the pandemic.
National parks have been growing in popularity. A record-breaking 330,971,689 people visited national parks in 2016, according to the National Park Service. The number of visitors dipped to 237,064,332 in 2020, perhaps because of the pandemic.
If you plan on traveling to a national park this year, the National Park Service has put together a list of tips on how to best enjoy your visit.
Are you traveling to a national park this year? If so, let us know which one in the comments below! And make sure to check out our guide to 102 National Park Attractions.