Despite a sour economy and expensive gasoline, nearly 283 million visitors traveled to the National Park System in 2012, an increase of nearly 4 million from 2011 and the highest level of visitation since 2009, National Parks Traveler reported.
Remove 2009 — when visitation reached 285.6 million — from the list and the 282.7 million visitors who headed to parks last year marked the highest visitation in more than decade; you’d have to go all the way back to 2000, when 285.9 million visitors turned out, to find a higher year in terms of visitation.
The figures went live on the National Park Service’s Visitor Use Statistics page after the close of business, East Coast time, Friday and Park Service officials were not immediately available for comment. However, the statistics seem to indicate the overall increase was driven by day trippers.
• Concessionaire-reported lodging nights stood at 3.29 million in 2012, roughly equal to the 3.3 million reported for 2011;
• Stays in concessionaire-run campgrounds stood at 1.25 million in 2012, again roughly equal to the 1.21 million reported the year before;
• Campers in NPS-run campgrounds stood at 3.2 million last year, just behind the 3.22 million reported for 2011;
• Recreational vehicle overnights ran to 2.12 million in 2012, nearly equal to the 2.15 million of 2011;
• Backcountry overnights in 2012 stood at 1.81 million, ahead of the 1.71 million tallied in 2011.
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