National parks in the United States have seen a surge in visitors over the summer of 2021, with some parks reporting record numbers of visitors and even reaching capacity during peak times. The pandemic has encouraged people to seek out safe outdoor activities, and with international travel restrictions still in place, many Americans are exploring their own country. However, the increase in visitors has presented challenges for national parks, such as overcrowding and an increase in inexperienced hikers causing heightened risks. Visitors can help alleviate some of the pressure by planning ahead, respecting the environment, and being patient and flexible. Masks are required in all national park buildings and facilities, and in outdoor areas when social distancing is not possible.
National Parks Welcome Record Number of Visitors in Summer 2021
As the world navigates its way through the pandemic, people are taking advantage of outdoor spaces more than ever. National parks have been a particularly popular destination, with many visitors finding solace and adventure in these natural wonders.
Summer 2021 has seen a huge increase in visitors to national parks across the United States. Parks are reporting record numbers of visitors, with some even reaching capacity during peak times. The National Park Service reported over 11 million visitors to Yellowstone National Park alone so far this year, a 12% increase compared to 2019, which was the park’s busiest year on record before the pandemic.
Why the Increase?
There are a few reasons for the surge in visitors to national parks. Firstly, the pandemic encouraged people to look for safe outdoor activities, and national parks are the perfect antidote to months of lockdowns and isolation. Additionally, with international travel restrictions still in place, many Americans are exploring their own backyard and discovering the incredible beauty of their own country. Finally, social media has played a role in promoting national parks as a bucket-list destination, with stunning photos and videos of famous landmarks and hidden gems becoming increasingly popular online.
Whilst the increase in visitors is certainly positive, it has also presented challenges for national parks. Overcrowding has become a problem at some popular sites, with long lines, limited parking, and overwhelmed amenities. Additionally, a surge in amateur hikers has increased the risk of accidents and search and rescue operations. Park staff are working hard to manage the influx of people whilst still ensuring visitor safety and preserving the parks’ natural wonders for future generations.
What You Can Do
If you’re planning a trip to a national park this summer, there are steps you can take to help alleviate some of the pressure. Firstly, be prepared and plan ahead. Check park websites for up-to-date information on safety measures, trail closures, and peak hours. Arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds and park in designated areas only. Respect wildlife and stay on designated trails to help preserve fragile ecosystems. Finally, be patient and flexible. The pandemic has changed the way we travel and visit national parks, so be prepared for longer wait times and limited amenities.
- What are the most popular national parks right now?
Yellowstone, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Zion, and Grand Teton National Parks are all reporting record numbers of visitors.
- What should I bring to a national park?
Comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, plenty of water, snacks, and a first aid kit are essential items to bring to a national park.
- Can I bring my dog to a national park?
Most national parks allow dogs on leashes, but some trails and areas may be off-limits. Check individual park websites for specific rules and regulations.
- What should I do if I encounter wildlife?
Observe wildlife from a distance and never approach or feed them. Keep a safe distance and respect their habitat.
- Are masks required in national parks?
Masks are required in all national park buildings and facilities, and in outdoor areas when social distancing is not possible.