DONALD WOOD | TravelPulse.Com
Troy Warren #travel-all
The United States National Park Service is reporting a massive surge in visitors so far this year as pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted thanks to the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccinations.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the rising number of Americans willing to hit the road for vacation this summer has resulted in long lines outside the gates of many of the most popular national parks across the country.
Last week at Arches National Park in Utah, officials were forced to turn guests away and make them wait at the gates after the property reached guest capacity before 9 a.m. local time. Signs in the area warned visitors of waits of as long as five hours.
Arches National Park registered around 194,000 guests in April, which is an increase of 15 percent from April 2019. The facilities were closed in April 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions.
At Yellowstone National Park last month, officials announced more than 483,100 people visited the property, a new record for the month of May and an 11 percent increase from May 2019.
Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park also set a new record for May with more than 363,700 visitors, an increase of around 30 percent from May 2019. Camping in the park also increased 93 percent in May 2021 compared to May 2019.
The National Park Service said that while properties across the U.S. are recording record high guest arrival numbers, officials are expecting millions more visitors over the summer, with July and August historically the busiest months.
In 2020, national parks saw a 28 percent decrease in visitors compared to 2019 due to temporary closures and other pandemic-related restrictions. Officials said 66 of the 423 parks in the National Park System were fully closed for at least two months.