An RV travels through Capitol Reef National Park on May 22, 2021. Visitation at Utah’s national parks dropped by almost 7% from 2021 to 2022, according to national parks data.
Carter Williams, KSL.com
Visitation at Utah’s “Mighty 5” national parks took a slight tumble in 2022.
A little more than 10.5 million people visited the five national parks last year, down about 7% from the record-setting 2021 numbers, according to a KSL.com analysis of National Park Service visitation. While the numbers are well ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic-impacted 2020 levels, the 2022 figures ended up 2% below pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Vicki Varela, managing director at the Utah Office of Tourism, said last year’s figures ended up closer to numbers posted in 2017.
“(There’s been) lots of roller-coaster stuff over the last couple of years,” she told KSL.com on Monday. “It’s interesting because there’s a perception that all the national parks are overcrowded. The fact is that it really varies from park to park.”
The same four parks that broke visitation records in 2021 — Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion — all experienced visitation decreases last year, ranging from -7% at Zion National Park to -19% at Arches National Park. Zion still ended up with its second-busiest year on record with almost 4.7 million visitors.
Bryce Canyon, the lone Utah national park that didn’t set a record in 2021, experienced the only uptick among the five. Its visitation rose by about 12%, but it’s still 9% below 2019 levels.
What’s behind the overall decline?
There are actually several factors that likely contributed to the slight decline in visitation in 2021, in one way or another. But the state’s ongoing efforts to spread out visitation to other parks in the state is likely not one of them.
Visitation to Glen Powell National Recreation Area, which includes the struggling Lake Powell, dropped almost 10% from 2021, though, it still attracted 2.8 million visitors last year. Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Golden Spike and Natural Bridges national monuments and historic parks all experienced year-over-year visitation drops, among those tracked by the National Park Service.
Hovenweep and Timpanogos Cave national monuments experienced increases, though neither brings in large crowds. The latter drew in just under 156,000 people, …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News