The National Park Service recently announced that visitation to national parks are up by 4 percent in the first six months of this year. 127.7 million visits have been made to our parks this year, an increase of 4.5 million visits over the same period last year. Parks located near urban centers, like Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, have seen the most dramatic increase. But visitation rates at America’s most well known park, Yellowstone, are also up 11 percent from last year. 

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, visitation to the nation’s 391 national parks fell sharply. Since then, the number of visitors has been increasing slightly each year, but still haven’t caught up to the record 286 million visits in 2000. In 2008 the nation’s parks had 275 million visitors.

The National Park Service credits their free weekend program for the upswing in attendance. It’s likely that cheaper gas and the slower economy have also contributed to the rediscovery of our park system.