Washington – National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today released the 2013 visitation figures for America’s national parks. More than 273.6 million total visits were recorded during the year at the 401 parks, historic sites and recreation areas that make up the National Park System.
“From families creating once-in-a-lifetime vacation memories to school children exploring a national park in their own backyard, the National Park Service welcomed more than a quarter of a billion visitors last year,” said Jarvis. “The national parks are the perfect place to be inspired by America’s majestic beauty, retrace the steps of those who founded and formed our nation’s history, or just relax and recharge with family and friends.”
The 2013 visitation figure is down 9.1 million visits from 2012. The decrease was due in large part to the lapse in federal appropriations, which shuttered national parks for the first 16 days of October.
“The shutdown reduced our visitation for the year by 7.88 million visitors who were turned away during those two weeks. These closures had a real impact on local businesses and communities that rely on the national parks as important drivers for their local economies,” said Jarvis.
Despite the shutdown, some parks reported increases in visitation in 2013, including Gettysburg National Military Park and Vicksburg National Military Park, both of which were buoyed by large crowds and increased interest due to Civil War sesquicentennial events. Other parks saw reduced numbers due to extended weather-related closures, including Blue Ridge Parkway, which saw visitation fall by 2.5 million due in large part to storm damage and generally cold and wet conditions. In New York City, the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy forced the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Castle Clinton to remain closed for part of the year.
National Parks in Indiana include the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park in Vincennes, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Porter, and the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City.