National Parks across the country are facing the threat of being loved to death as visitor numbers continue to increase year by year. According to St George News, nearly half of the 312 million people who visited national park sites were concentrated in just 25 of the 424 found across the country.
Visitor numbers to national parks went up 5% between 2021 and 2022 (15 million more visitors). The increased number, with 49% visiting just 25 parks, has caused significant erosion and the formation of visitor made trails, damaging the ecosystem of the park and potentially harming wildlife.
Blue Ridge Parkway and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area each saw more than 15.5 million visitors last year, making up more than 10% of the total national park visitation. Nearly 4.7 million people visited Zion National Park alone in 2022, around 1.5% of the total national park visits that year.
As such, the nonprofit National Park Trust is partnering with Pacifico to encourage tourists to visit the lesser known parks that are still filled with beauty. The campaign, Parks Less Traveled, began on April 25 and will continue to run until May 31. Those aged 21 and up are asked to post pictures of their national park visits with a multitude of hashtags to their Instagram for the opportunity to win one of many adventures.
Some parks have turned towards a permit system for the more popular destinations, like the 5.4 mile round-trip Angel’s Landing hike in Zion, limiting the number of guests allowed in at a a time.
“Angels Landing is one of the most iconic destinations in Zion National Park and issuing permits will make going there fair for everyone. The system we’ve put in place will reduce crowding on the trail, address safety concerns and make it easy for visitors to plan ahead.” – Zion Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh
To do your part in protecting national parks, make sure to practice “leave no trace” and, of course, visit the trails/areas/parks less traveled. There are plenty of hidden gems in every park worth checking out.
Image Credit: Zion National Park via Facebook