West Coast national parks hit record visits in 2021. But that only made existing problems worse

By Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 12:35pm
Updated: Thursday, January 20, 2022 - 8:52am

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hikers near angels landing trail
NPS/Lizz Eberhardt
Hikers waiting to climb, climbing, or descending the trail to Angels Landing near Scout Lookout in Zion National Park, Nov. 26, 2021.

Ad campaigns and other efforts to encourage more people to visit national parks seem to be working. Several parks, including Yellowstone, Zion and Arches, set visitation records last year.

The thinking makes sense — the parks are outside, which is more COVID-safe than being indoors, and at least in theory, it’s possible to socially distance from other people.

But that’s becoming more of a challenge, and it’s not the only one the parks are facing.

Aging infrastructure is being pushed to the brink in some cases, and the parks are dealing with a lot of the same staffing and supply issues found in the rest of the country.

Annette McGivney has written about all of this; she’s a Colorado-based journalist and covers environmental issues for the Guardian.

The Show spoke with McGivney and asked what kind of impact the influx of visitors had on the parks' infrastructure.

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