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With visitation records obliterated in 2021, superintendents at most popular US NPs ponder future

After more than a year of Covid cabin fever, the landscapes of the west called out to cooped up Americans, who arrived in greater numbers than ever before. As a result, 2021 saw bucket-list parks – including Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands and Glacier – smash their previous visitation records.

But the mass exodus into the outdoors has come at a cost. The 1960s-era wastewater system in Yellowstone was pushed to the brink. Arches temporarily closed 120 times because all the parking lots were full. The Grand Canyon struggled to cope with a record number of rescues, and an influx of remote workers have driven rents sky high in gateway towns such as Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

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