Thursday, February 25, 2010

National park visits boom amid recession

Despite the recession, or perhaps because of it, 286 million visitors flocked to national parks last year, an increase of 10 million people. Utah's national park units attracted just over 9 million visitors during the year, up by 300,000. In Utah, Zion National Park attracted the most visitors of any park unit in the state: 2.7 million, up by 45,000. That set a new all-time visitation record. Zion also ranked No. 7 in visitation among parks nationwide. Elsewhere in Utah, park visit increases and decreases varied widely. Remote Rainbow Bridge National Monument attracted the biggest increase by percentage — 18.7 percent, or a jump of nearly 18,000 visitors. The biggest decrease was at Cedar Breaks National Monument, where visitation dropped by 8.5 percent or by nearly 46,000 people. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Lake Powell) attracted the second-most visits of any park unit in the state: 1.96 million visitors, up just 13,000 from the previous year. Bryce Canyon National Park attracted 1.2 million, up by a booming 16.6 percent.Arches National Park attracted 996,312 visitors, up 7.3 percent; Capitol Reef National Park attracted 617,208 visitors, up 2 percent; Canyonlands National Park attracted 436,241, nearly unchanged from 2008; and Dinosaur National Monument attracted 203,862, up 1 percent. Also, Timpanogos Cave National Monument attracted 138,571 visitors, up 12 percent; Natural Bridges National Monument attracted 92,023, nearly unchanged from 2008; Golden Spike National Historic Site had 45,334. The Deseret News