Get Out There

National Parks Are Still Booming

When offices and businesses closed down, many of us missed seeing people every day. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were told to stay away from anyone we didn’t live with. There were lockdowns where we were told to stay inside to protect each other from COVID-19 while doctors learned how to treat it and vaccines were developed.

People, seeking to be outdoors and away from the onslaught of pandemic news, headed to the national parks. Our team has always been enthusiastic about the national parks and getting outdoors. We’ve written about them ever since we started our blog! It was wonderful to hear that people were being outside more and visiting our country’s incredible sights!

As life began to get more normal, we assumed that the fascination with the parks would wane. Businesses are open again. Schools are back in person. Most places have dropped their mask mandates. While COVID-19 is still a problem, it’s no longer disrupting every aspect of our lives. However, the parks are still booming.

Grand Teton and Yellowstone have had their busiest years ever. July was the busiest month in history for Grand Teton. At the end of September, Yellowstone had already had 4.5 million visitors. They have never had more than four million in a whole year before.

It’s not without consequences. We’ve covered stories of legal action against people being reckless in the parks. There’re more incidences of litter, graffiti, pets who shouldn’t be there, illegal camping and other problems. There’re also more people who are getting out of their depth than before. Getting out into nature is great. But going on trails you aren’t ready for is a bad idea. The Grand Canyon had to perform more rescues over the summer than all of last year. When you go out into nature, you should be aware of your own abilities, the rules of the place and have respect for the land. You want to have a fun day and leave it in excellent condition for others to enjoy too!

Going into the parks can be dangerous. The three top causes of death in the park deaths are falls, medical emergencies and undetermined causes. The report that looked at the deaths salaciously said that large parks were more dangerous. But, it makes sense that larger and more popular parks have higher death rates: the more people who visit, the more likely there is to be a death. Between 2007 and 2018, 2,727 deaths were reported in national parks. And, people also go missing from them. It’s easy to get lost in nature, that’s why we always talk about the importance of not going out alone.

We think it’s terrific that people are getting out into the national parks. And we’re pleased that interest isn’t waning. But, we believe that it’s important to stress that you should know what to expect before you go. That’s especially true with the fast-approaching winter. You should have the proper gear ready. And you should be aware that there could be a crowd. We’ve written before that if a crowd isn’t for you, you might want to head to a state park or stay away from the “big name” parks. There are beautiful sights to be seen all around us! The fact that the parks are open to everyone is wonderful, and we hope people continue to visit. You just have to make a plan that suits you.

Banner image: Grand Teton. Credit: Toan Chu via Unsplash

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