Report: Capitol Reef, other national parks show decrease in visitors due to pandemic, temporary closures

Capitol Reef. Photo: National Park Service

TORREY, Utah, Feb. 3, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Capitol Reef National Park visitation dropped 20% from 2019 to 2020, a National Park Service statement says.

But that’s likely because the park was closed for much of the season due to the pandemic.

“Outdoor experiences provided refuge from the pandemic for 237 million visitors to America’s national parks in 2020,” the statement says. “The number represents a 28% decrease from the previous year due largely to temporary park closures and restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Capitol Reef National Park’s overall visitation dropped 20% in 2020 from 2019, from 1,226,511 to 981,038.

“This past year has reminded us how important places like Capitol Reef National Park are to society,” said Superintendent Sue Fritzke. “Visitors were able to find safe places to recreate outdoors during a global pandemic.”

While international visitation, which comprises a significant number of annual visitors, dropped, the park welcomed many new visitors from around the region and country as people sought refuge locally, the statement says.

The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every National Park Service operation, and parks continue to work with public health officials to navigate changing conditions. A maximum 66 of the 423 parks of the National Park System were fully closed for two months or more, the NPS statement says.

Capitol Reef National Park closed to recreational access for almost two months in spring of 2020, then reopened incrementally as public health safety measures were put in place. The park is now fully open for responsible recreation, and has seen record visitation in September, November, and December 2020.

The NPS report also mentions Zion National Park, which had an estimated 3,591,254 recreation visits and moved from fourth place in 2019 to third place in 2020.

For an in-depth look at 2020 visitation statistics, national summaries, and individual park figures, please visit the National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics website.


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