Arches national park had to close its gate more than 120 times this summer alone when parking lots filled up, creating a safety hazard for emergency vehicles. Yellowstone national park reached 1 million visitors in July for the first time in its history. At Zion national park, the wait for a hike was a Disneyland-long four hours. And with the visitors came graffiti, trash and reckless behavior.
“It’s no secret that this summer has been one of our busiest summers ever,” says Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, the chief spokesperson for the National Park Service. “We don’t have official numbers, but preliminary visitation statistics show that the most popular 12 to 15 national parks are seeing record numbers.”