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Yosemite Visitor Numbers Eclipse Previous Record

Yosemite National Park – According to newly available National Park Service (NPS) figures, Yosemite has shattered its previous visitor record.

The park drew a jaw-dropping 5,028,868 visitors in 2016. That is a 21 percent increase over 2015, the year during which it set its benchmark attendance record, as reported here.

According to federal figures, overall visitation to national parks is on track to surpass 325 million in 2016, breaking last year’s all-time high of 307 million, reflecting a nearly six percent gain.

Yosemite still appears to be ensconced near the top of the most visited national parks in the country, according to National Park Service data for 2016. Yosemite’s visitor numbers surpassed those of Rocky Mountain National Park’s (4,526,335; although up by almost nine percent), which in 2015 was listed as the third most visited national park.

Yellowstone National Park, which came in fifth on the 2015 list, attracted roughly a quarter-million more visitors than Yosemite did last year. However, Yellowstone’s gains compared to its previous year numbers were, at just under three percent, much more modest than Yosemite’s. Yellowstone visitor numbers were reported to be 5,387,262 for 2016.

NPS figures show Great Smokey Mountains, by far the most visited national park, receiving 22,528,017 visitors last year; also a three percent improvement over 2015.

At number two on the most visited national parks list, Grand Canyon National Park reported 5,731,705 visitors through November 2016, a nearly eight percent improvement from 2015.

Zion National Park, which also demonstrated a dramatic, almost 18 percent rise in visitors last year, logged 4,317,028. Grand Teton, which came in at at 4,822,972, made a nearly four percent gain.

Last month Yosemite reported 148,212 visitors by auto and 12,434 by bus totaling 160,646; up over 15 percent from last December. Camping numbers were down nearly 90 percent due to the weather.

Camping overall in 2016 showed a 20 percent decrease in tent campers, which totaled 471,611. However RV campers, reported at 360,772, rose by nearly 27 percent. Backcountry camping numbers, which came in at just under 217,000, showed a two percent uptick.

Nearly 46,000 groups camped last year, an increase of about 30 percent. Horse camp users, which numbered just under 5,000, rose by over 18 percent.