Grand Canyon, Zion National Park see record number of visits in 2015

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Many of the country's most prominent national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Zion, set new visitation records in 2015 and are bracing for what could be an even busier new year.

See Full Article

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday in 2016 and has been urging Americans to rediscover the country's scenic wonders or find new parks to visit through marketing campaigns that include giving free passes to every fourth-grader and their families.

So the attendance records could be shot lived, with even bigger crowds expected next year.

"Everybody's getting psyched and ready for it," said Yellowstone spokeswoman Sandra Snell-Dobert. "We want people to have a good experience when it comes to our national parks. We're trying to keep that wonderful experience while managing large numbers of people."

Overall visitation to national parks is on track to hit 300 million in 2015, besting last year's all-time high of nearly 293 million. Absent December totals, Grand Canyon in northern Arizona hit almost 5.3 million visits. Zion in Utah is over 3.5 million. Yellowstone, which stretches into Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, is nearing 4.1 million. Yosemite in California is about 220,000 visits shy of the 1996 record--4.2 million -- with November and December still left to count.

The past year has meant some adjusting for parks as they manage the crowds. Yosemite lowered the entrance fees during the late fall and winter partly to encourage visitors to consider times other than the busy summer. Zion extended its shuttle bus service when the parking lots became too full for people to access the canyon. It also brought in interns to help study peak times.

The Grand Canyon opened up its residential and employee entrance at the South Rim to those who already had passes over holiday weekends and plans to do the same in 2016. It's also ramped up hiring for entrance gate employees but will move them around jobs so they don't get burned out, said Grand Canyon revenue and fee business manager Marlon Avantyr.

"We survived this year pretty much unscathed, just tired, but in a good way," he said. "We have a good plan and a good idea of what to expect, so we're hoping to stay ahead of the curve."

More signs around national parks will help direct traffic and officials plan to use social media to help visitors better plan their trips. Park officials say they'll rely more on seasonal workers, interns and volunteers who might suggest less-busy areas to visit or alternate times. The Park Service's fiscal year 2016 budget includes $8 million for seasonal employees during the centennial, the agency said.

Some decisions on crowd-management will be made on the fly, said Zion spokeswoman Aly Baltrus.

"We're constantly looking for what's needed," she said. "But at this point we don't have an influx of funds, so we're rearranging things as best as we can."

At nearly 2,000 square miles, the Grand Canyon has plenty of room for visitors to branch out for river trips, backcountry hikes and to dozens of lookout points. However, the South Rim remains the most popular tourist spot. Just this year, the park proposed charging at least $5 for day hikes beyond 5 miles on major trails from the north and south rims to ease congestion.

The upcoming year will bring dark skies programs, a Theodore Roosevelt impersonator and historical steam engines to the Grand Canyon. But it won't be all about the Grand Canyon. Workers will be talking up other Arizona parks that don't get as much attention.

"Grand Canyon promotes itself," said Vanessa Ceja-Cervantes, the park's centennial community outreach assistant. "We have to do very little to get people to come out to the park."



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Bell Media names Randy Lennox president after Mary Ann Turcke leaves

    Economic CBC News
    Bell Media has named Randy Lennox as its president following the departure of Mary Ann Turcke for a new opportunity with the NFL. Lennox, a former executive at Universal Music Canada, joined the media giant in August 2015 as president of entertainment production and broadcasting. Source
  • Bell Media names Randy Lennox as new president

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL - Bell Media has named Randy Lennox as its president following the departure of Mary Ann Turcke for a new opportunity with the NFL. Lennox, a former executive at Universal Music Canada, joined the media giant in August 2015 as president of entertainment production and broadcasting. Source
  • Are loyalty programs even worth it anymore?

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The value of customer loyalty programs is under increased scrutiny by companies and users in the wake of Air Miles' recent reversal of an unpopular expiration policy. The operator of the shopper reward program, LoyaltyOne, angered many members last year with its proposal to void unused Air Miles after five years, only to abandon that plan weeks before it was to take effect. Source
  • Manulife admits fine by money-laundering watchdog Fintrac

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Manulife Financial Corp. confirmed Monday its banking unit was penalized last year after Canada's money-laundering watchdog concluded it failed to report a suspicious transaction and various money transfers. Last year, Fintrac fined the bank $1.15 million, but it withheld the bank's identity, saying it was exercising its discretion to do so. Source
  • B.C. increasing minimum wage to $11.35

    Economic CTV News
    VICTORIA - The minimum wage in British Columbia will rise by 50 cents to $11.35 an hour in mid-September. The ministry says there will be an identical increase of 50 cents to the minimum wage for liquor servers, bringing it to $10.10 per hour in September. Source
  • 5 billion mobile phone users projected for 2017: study

    Economic CTV News
    With populations in Asia on the rise, the number of mobile phones, which stood at 4.8 billion a year ago, should mushroom to 5.7 billion, or three quarters of the world's population, by 2020. The number of mobile phone users globally will surpass five billion by the middle of this year, according to a study released Monday by GSMA, the association of mobile operators. Source
  • Behold the KEYone: Last BlackBerry-designed phone with a physical keyboard

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Fans of BlackBerry's classic physical keyboard will have reason to celebrate when the last product designed in part by the former smartphone leader becomes available in April. The Waterloo, Ont.-based firm played a role in developing the KEYone, named for the return of the QWERTY keyboard that other smartphone designers have mostly long retired. Source
  • Manulife revealed as bank FINTRAC fined $1.15M for anti-money laundering failures

    Economic CBC News
    The head of Canada's top financial crime watchdog is second-guessing his decision last year to withhold the name of a Canadian bank — which CBC Investigates has identified — fined $1.15 million for violating the federal anti-money laundering and terrorist financing act. Source
  • Manulife revealed as bank fined $1.15M for violating anti-money laundering reporting rules

    Economic CBC News
    The head of Canada's top financial crime watchdog is second-guessing his decision last year to withhold the name of a Canadian bank — which CBC Investigates has identified — fined $1.15 million for violating the federal anti-money laundering and terrorist financing act. Source
  • Billionaire Wilbur Ross heads toward confirmation as U.S. Commerce secretary

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross is headed toward confirmation as Commerce secretary in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration. The Senate is set to vote on Ross' nomination Monday evening. Ross easily cleared the Senate Commerce Committee and a procedural vote by the full Senate. Source