Disneyland-like crowds flooding national parks could cause some parks to close their gates

Disneyland-like crowds flooding national parks could cause some parks to close their gates

  • National parks are experiencing an influx of crowds, and it’s caused some parks to turn away visitors.
  • Some TikTokers have shared videos of the shocking crowds at Arches, Zion, and other popular parks.
  • The crowds reportedly have officials considering reservation systems that would require visitors to plan ahead.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Summer months are here and national parks across the country are getting an influx of visitors. In some cases, it’s been so many that some parks have been forced to close their gates. 

For example, Arches National Park in Grand County, Utah, welcomed about 194,000 people in April — up 15% from April 2019, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Since the beginning of this year, the park has closed its gates over 80 times. If the rate continues, this will be the park’s busiest year ever, according to The Associated Press.

For some parks, Memorial Day weekend marked the start of the busy tourism season. Yellowstone National Park experienced a 50% increase in cars compared to the 2019 Memorial Day weekend, and Zion National Park had a four-hour wait time for some popular hikes.

With the crowds comes a mixed reaction from locals, the Journal reported. Many locals are frustrated and said they’ve seen an increase in graffiti, piles of human waste, and trash.

“This year has been over the top with new visitors who really are not educated as to how to appropriately recreate,” Joette Langianese, director of a nonprofit called Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks, told the AP. “For example, throwing garbage just on the ground and not in the garbage can, or walking off the trail or stepping on the (cryptobiotic) soil.”

The increase of tourists has also helped boost economies in places like Moab, Utah, the Journal reports.

When the parks close, visitors look for other options. They might head to another nearby, lesser-known national park or they explore lands in the Bureau of Land Management, which are public lands. 

This has caused some of the under-the-radar national parks to be flooded with visitors, too. For example, many of Arches’ turned-away visitors head to Canyonlands, which has seen a 30% increase in visitors from April 2019 to April 2021, the Journal reports. 

National park visitors have been sharing videos on social media showing the shocking Disneyland-like crowds at the parks.

TikTok user @writetravel recently shared the long line to take a picture at the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. They also shared videos of the seemingly never-ending lines of people and cars waiting to get into the park.

In a video showcasing the “Instagram versus reality” of national parks, TikTok user @kjandsarah shared videos of crowds at Zion National Park waiting to get on hiking paths. 

TikTok user @thisyvonne posted a video on Friday showing a long line of cars waiting to enter a national park.

“Wow, get here early,” the TikToker can be heard saying in the background of the video. “That is ridiculously long.”

The influx of post-pandemic visitors has caused parks to adopt and consider reservation systems.

Last year, Rocky Mountain and Yosemite implemented reservation systems that require visitors to have a timed slot for entry.

Arches National Park is considering a similar system, according to the AP. 

“We definitely want people to come here and enjoy our parks,” Langianese told the outlet. “But we also want them to be able to experience the parks in a way that they can feel that solitude and that silence, so that they want to make sure that it stays the same.”


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