US National Parks are crowded this summer

Danny Lehman/The Image Bank RF/Getty Images
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Outdoor recreation is on track for another record-setting year. In 2022, US national parks logged more than 300 million visits – and that means a lot more people on roads and trails.

While research shows that spending time outside is good for physical and mental health, long lines and gridlocked roads can make the experience a lot less fun. Crowding also makes it harder for park staff to protect wildlife and fragile lands and respond to emergencies. To manage the crowds, some parks are experimenting with timed-entry vehicle reservation systems and permits for popular trails.

For all of their popularity, national parks are just one subset of US public lands. Across the nation, the federal government owns more than 640 million acres (2.6 million square kilometers) of land. Depending on each site’s mission, its uses may include logging, livestock grazing, mining, oil and gas production, wildlife habitat or recreation – often, several of these at once. In contrast, national parks exist solely to protect some of the most important places for public enjoyment.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!