Number of Overnight-Camping Stays Declines in National Parks

I hope you enjoy this interesting article recently posts by Leave No Trace:


Each year, the National Park Service hosts over 280 million visitors to its nearly 400 parks. These range from large well-known national parks, such as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, to much smaller units such as Florissant Fossil Beds near Colorado Springs. Despite this high annual visitation, the number of overnight-camping stays in national parks has significantly declined in the past 15 years, according to the NPS.


More than 9.2 million campers were recorded in the national parks in 1998. This number dropped to 8.54 million in 2003, 7.99 million in 2008, and finally to 7.91 million last year. This overall decline includes tent and RV camping in campgrounds, as well as backcountry camping. In many parks, the number of nights spent in the backcountry is far less than nights spent in developed campgrounds. For example, in Rocky Mountain National Park only 29,870 visitors out of nearly 3 million spent a night in the backcountry in 2013.

According to Jeffrey Olson of the National Parks Service, the decline began in the mid-1990s and started to level out around 2004. While the annual number of campers does fluctuate from year to year, overall national park visitation numbers seem to continue to lessen.

These days, many travelers seek out Wi-Fi, TV and other creature comforts rather than a more nature-centric experience. Many gateway communities adjacent to parks offer more choices for park visitors in terms of lodging options and amenities, adding to the overall drop in overnight park visitor numbers.


Olson did note that in the biggest, most famous and most-visited national parks, “camping is still very popular,” with numbers down only slightly and campgrounds often at capacity. However, in smaller and less well-known parks, camping numbers are down as much as 30 percent.

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About notacluegal

Jeanene was born in Pittsburgh, PA. As a young child her family was very active in the outdoors. Things changed when her parents decided to travel down different paths in life and with that decision so went many of the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Being lucky to live in the suburbs Jeanene always had a backyard to play in and loved being outdoors. As the years passed she took every opportunity to be outdoors. She bought land in Tennessee and as a single mom moved her young daughter to the mountains. The were many life lessons learned on that mountain. There was no plumbing on the property – or even a house, but that did not stop her. She learned to live off of what was available and built her own cabin from the trees on her property. Those were rough years but the most rewarding. Now Jeanene resides in Tampa, Fl. and works as an office manager full time….but still yeans to be outdoors. Jeanene started “Not a Clue Adventures” to teach everyone she could how wonderful the outdoors are! That camping and fishing and hiking can be done by everyone and at many different levels. Single mom’s no longer have to be afraid to take their sons and daughters outdoors. By working with young couples, single parents and even seniors, she gets to teach others about her love for the outdoors and hopes to open their eyes to new adventures. In 2009, Jeanene completed certification as a Leave No Trace Instructor. She also works closely with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) and the Florida State Parks. Jeanene is also certified in First Aid/Adult CPR.
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