Utah Parks Set Attendance Records Once Again

With a month to spare, Zion National Park has set a new record for visitation this year, heightening concerns about overcrowding just as park managers consider a controversial fee hike and requiring visitors to go through an online reservation system.

The park had counted 4,365,946 visitors through the end of November, representing nearly a 5 percent increase over last year’s record numbers. Since 2010, the park has seen visitation increase nearly 70 percent.

Zion wasn’t alone among Utah parks in drawing record numbers of crowds.

Nearby Bryce Canyon National Park was at 2.5 million visitors through November, already eclipsing last year’s record of 2.4 million. Capitol Reef had already set its new record as of the end of October, at 1.1 million visitors. Both have seen the number of visitors more than double over the past decade.

Arches and Canyonlands national parks have only reported their visitation through October, but both were on pace to eclipse last year’s record visitation as well, with Arches at 1.4 million visitors and Canyonlands at 695,148.

The National Park Service’s own analysis suggested that the five national parks and other national monuments attracted more than $1 billion in direct visitor spending, including nearly $500 million spent in southwestern Utah at Zion and Bryce Canyon.

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