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National Park visitation down 3 percent in 2013

Published March 18, 2014 4:02 pm

National Park system • Officials say the 3 percent decrease in 2013 is due primarily to government shutdown.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

National Park visitation dropped to 273.6 million visitors in 2013 at its 401 parks, national historic sites, monuments and recreation areas, off about 3 percent from 2012.

With the exceptions of Arches National Park — which saw a visitation increase of about 12,000 from 2012 to 2013 — and Canyonlands National Park — which saw an increase of about 10,500 — the rest of Utah's national parks, monuments, recreation areas and historic sites reflected declines.

Nationally, the 2013 visitation figure was down 9.1 million visits. Park officials said the decrease was due in large part to the lapse in federal appropriations, which shuttered national parks for the first 16 days of October.

"The shutdown reduced our visitation for the year by 7.22 million visitors who were turned away during those two weeks," said National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis. "These closures had a real impact on local businesses and communities that rely on the national parks as important drivers for their local economies."

Zion was the only one of Utah's five national parks to rank in the top 10 most-visited parks in the country. Its 2,807,387 visitors were down from 2,973,607 in 2012. That ranked Zion seventh behind Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Olympic and Rocky Mountain. There are 59 formally designated national parks in the system.

With 14,289,121 visitors, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in the San Francisco area was the most visited unit in the system.

The National Park Service recently released a new report showing that visitors to national parks generated $26.75 billion in economic activity and supported 243,000 jobs in 2012. According to that report, Utah's investment of nearly $1 million to open its nine national park units early during the government shutdown in October resulted in a $10 return for every $1 spent.

wharton@sltrib.com

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Utah National Park Service visitation

Arches • (2013) 1,082,866 | (2012) 1,070,577

Bryce Canyon • (2013) 1,311,875 | (2012) 1,385,352

Canyonlands • (2013) 462,242 | (2012) 452,952

Capitol Reef • (2013) 663,670 | (2012) 673,345

Cedar Breaks • (2013) 466,450 | (2012) 631,809

Dinosaur • (2013) 274,361 | (2012) 302,858

Glen Canyon • (2013) 1,991,924 | (2012) 2,061,328

Golden Spike • (2013) 40,704 | (2012) 42,551

Hovenweep • (2013) 24,959 | (2012) 26,710

Natural Bridges • (2013) 82,330 | (2012) 89,011

Rainbow Bridge • (2013) 54,773 | (2012) 75,214

Timpanogos Cave • (2013) 91,269 | (2012) 118,764

Zion • (2013) 2,807,387 | (2012) 2,973,607