Grand Canyon National Park has broken the 6 million mark in annual visitation for the first time, and it was a family from Las Vegas that put the national park over the top.
On Monday, James and Abigail Johnson and their children, Sophia and Elijah, were on their first trip to the canyon 270 miles east of Las Vegas when they were greeted at the south entrance station and led to the park headquarters. There they were met by Grand Canyon Superintendent Chris Lehnertz and showered with gifts from the park’s nonprofit association and affiliated businesses.
“At first I didn’t think it was real, but I’m really happy we’re the six-millionth,” Sophia said in a written statement from the park.
This year’s record visitation at Grand Canyon was spurred by national promotional campaigns associated with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Other parks have also set new attendance records in 2016 or are expected to do so.
Grand Canyon’s previous record of just over 5.5 million visitors was set last year, and the park has seen a steady increase in visitation since 2011.
More than 200 million people have visited Grand Canyon National Park since it was founded in 1919.