New Report: National Park Visitation Continues to Rebound
During the height of the pandemic, despite travel restrictions at the time, national parks saw an influx of visitors, as they'd become a popular place for many people to stretch their legs and get some much needed fresh air. Now, the recently released National Park Service 2022 Visitation Report has found that visitation to America's national parks has continued to rebound toward pre-pandemic levels.
The report also demonstrates subtle shifts in visitation patterns after two years of efforts to bolster visitation at lesser-known parks and at times of the year when parks historically saw fewer visitors.
National Park Service statisticians looked inside the numbers to learn what kinds of parks people visited in 2022. Parks known for recreation opportunities drew 38% of visitation, parks that primarily focus on U.S. history and cultural heritage drew 32% of total park visitation and parks anchored by nature-based experiences drew 30% of visitation.
"People continue to seek a variety of national park travel experiences—to learn about American history and culture, get active and enjoy breathtaking scenic views," said Chuck Sams, Director, National Park Service. "We're excited to see our efforts to increase visitation to parks in the off-season and in parks that are less well-known paying off. Many parks with record visitation in 2022 are on what we would call 'the road less traveled.' The subtle shift in park visitation is good for visitors, good for protecting parks and good for local communities whose economies benefit from tourism dollars."
NOTABLE VISITATION PATTERN SHIFTS FROM 2021 TO 2022:
- The group of 330-plus parks that make up 25% of overall visitation had a 4.6% increase in visitation.
- The group of 37 parks that make up 25% of overall visitation had a 2% increase in visitation.
- The group of 19 parks that make up 25% of overall visitation had a 10% increase in visitation.
- The group of eight parks that make up 25% of overall visitation had a 1.2% increase in visitation.
ADDITIONAL REPORT INSIGHTS AND HIGHLIGHTS:
- 312 million recreation visits were recorded in 2022 compared to 297 million recreation visits in 2021, an increase of five% year over year.
- There are 424 parks in National Park System; 395 parks count visitors.
- Parks with record visitation in 2022 are in the lower 50% of overall park visitation.
- 3 parks had more than 10 million recreation visits; 9 parks had more than five million recreation visits; and 75 parks had more than one million recreation visits.
- More than 15.7 billion people have visited national parks since 1904.
Whether your groups have a bucket list park trip planned for 2023 or are looking to schedule time to discover the rest of the National Park System, the National Park Service app and insider tips from park rangers through the Plan like a Park Ranger feature are keys to safe, sensational and successful national park experiences.
Everyone who visits a park has, or develops, their own special connections. In 2023, the National Park Service is inviting visitors to share "Your Park Story." You and your groups can take part by sharing #MyParkStory on social media and follow the conversation on National Park Service social media channels.
Learn more by visiting nps.gov.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.
Photo Courtesy of NPS.