America’s “best idea” – its national parks – have a lot more to celebrate this year than a centennial. They received a record-breaking number of visitors in 2015 – whooping 307,247,252 recreation visits, according to National Parks Service (NPS) data.
This is a 4.9 percent increase over 2014 which held previous record of 292.8 million. “The popularity of national parks is well known, but last year’s numbers really are extraordinary,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
In fact, 57 of all 371 different kinds of parks, coasts and monuments regulated by the NPS had their best year ever (See the best urban parks in America).
Joshua Tree National Park surpassed 2 million for the first time, Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone had more than 4 million, and the Grand Canyon National Park surpassed 5 million.
Camping – whether it’s in RVs, tents or designed campgrounds – and backcountry overnight visits are up almost everywhere since 2014. The total overnight stays (sum of all categories) were up 6 percent over the previous year.