National park visitation hit an all-time high last year, but this year's on pace to blow right through those 2015 numbers. That means more than 307-million of us will pass through those entrances around the country.
In fact, a recent American Automobile Association (AAA) survey says 79 percent of Americans are likely to visit our national parks this year. "The demand for national parks is off the charts this year, and it's exciting to see that Americans are poised to take even more national park vacations in the years to come," said Bryan Shilling, managing director of AAA Travel Products and Services. "In times of global uncertainty, many people are turning to domestic vacations and the wide variety of national parks offer something for every traveler to discover."
Eighty five percent of all Americans have visited a National Park at one time or another, and a majority of us still call those parks "must see" destinations. Having visited my first national park (Mammoth Cave) early- and often- in my childhood, I've never missed an opportunity to visit others.
They seldom disappoint -and in this time of global uncertainty, they're viable options for families that might seek their adventure elsewhere in the world otherwise.
"It's not surprising to see that younger generations are particularly interested in visiting national parks," added Shilling. "Travel is part of Millennials' DNA, and they consistently seek experiential travel opportunities, a major draw for national park visitors."
According to the AAA survey, we seem to feel that spring, fall and summer, respectively, are the best times to visit. But you'd do well to remember that there are select dates in honor of the 100th anniversary when you can enjoy discounts. All sites that charge an admission fee, for example, will offer free admission August 25-28, September 4, and November 11.
Before starting our weekend (ours will include a drive through the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park), here are some of the "factoids" to consider about our National Parks:
The vast majority of visitors (91 percent) drive to their destinations.
Most of us (66 percent) stay in hotels, but camping, vacation rentals or cabins are popular with the others.
Walking, hiking and sightseeing are the favorite activities, regardless of how you arrive.
If you have the opportunity, check out one of our National Parks this year….for a listing of them, visit: http://www.nationalpark-adventures.com/united-states-national-parks.html
Have a great weekend, and if you're headed outdoors -take along a friend and introduce them to our world.