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

  • CIBC looks to generate quarter of earnings from U.S.

    Economic CBC News
    CIBC closed its acquisition of Chicago-based PrivateBancorp on Friday, securing its foothold in the U.S. where CEO Victor Dodig said the bank hopes to one day generate a quarter of its earnings. The Canadian bank now earns roughly five per cent of its profits in the U.S. Source
  • CIBC closes acquisition of U.S.-based PrivateBancorp

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- CIBC closed its acquisition of Chicago-based PrivateBancorp on Friday, securing its foothold in the U.S. where CEO Victor Dodig said the bank hopes to one day generate a quarter of its earnings. The Canadian bank (TSX:CM) now earns roughly five per cent of its profits in the U.S. Source
  • Consumer demand for debt as high as it has ever been, Equifax says

    Economic CBC News
    Canadians' appetite for debt is as insatiable as ever, a new report from credit monitoring firm Equifax says. Equifax calculates that Canadian consumers owed $1.729 trillion at the end of the first quarter, an increase of 6.9 per cent in a year. Source
  • Sears Canada store closures expected to have little impact on RioCan

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Sears is closing another 20 stores as the ailing retailer tries to turn around its business. Real estate investment trust Seritage, which owns the 20 real estate properties, confirmed the closings-- 18 Sears stores and two Kmart stores -- in a government filing Friday. Source
  • Ontario rent increases capped at 1.8 per cent next year

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Landlords in Ontario will be able to increase rents up to 1.8 per cent next year, as rent controls are expanded under the Liberal government's housing plan. The annual rent increase guideline is the maximum amount a landlord can boost a tenant's rent without needing the approval of the Landlord and Tenant Board. Source
  • Norsat International investors approve takeover bid from Chinese firm

    Economic CBC News
    ?Norsat International Inc. says its securityholders have voted to approve a controversial takeover of the company by Chinese company Hytera Communications Co. Ltd. The Canadian satellite communications firm says its securityholders voted 72.53 per cent in favour of the offer of $11.50 US per share. Source
  • Cost of Muskrat Falls hydro project rises by another billion, CEO says

    Economic CTV News
    ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- Costs for the beleaguered Muskrat Falls hydro development in Labrador are up by another $1 billion. Nalcor Energy CEO Stan Marshall says the new price tag is $12.7 billion with financing. Source
  • Sears closes another 20 stores in the U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Sears is closing another 20 U.S. stores as the ailing retailer tries to turn around its business. Real estate investment trust Seritage, which owns the 20 real estate properties, confirmed the closings-- 18 Sears stores and two Kmart stores -- in a government filing Friday. Source
  • Vancouver passes Toronto as 'most expensive' city in Canada

    Economic CTV News
    An annual ranking of the cost of living in hundreds of cities worldwide suggests that Vancouver has overtaken Toronto as the most expensive in Canada, although both remain relatively affordable by global standards. The Mercer 2017 Cost of Living Survey placed Vancouver at 107, followed by Toronto at 119, Montreal at 129, Calgary at 143 and Ottawa at 152. Source
  • Inflation rate cools to 1.3% in May as food prices now cheaper than a year ago

    Economic CBC News
    Food prices have gotten cheaper in the past year, Statistics Canada says. (The Associated Press) The cost of living went up by 1.3 per cent in the year up to May, a slightly slower pace than it increased by a month earlier. Source