Lake Mead surges into sixth among nation’s busiest parks

Lake Mead National Recreation Area rose to sixth among the nation’s busiest parks in 2017 with almost 7.9 million visitors.

It was Lake Mead’s highest total since 2003, and it helped propel the National Park Service to its second busiest year on record, according to statistics just released by the agency.

The 1.5 million-acre recreation area just east of Las Vegas was the nation’s seventh busiest park in 2016. Park spokeswoman Christie Vanover said Lake Mead used to rank as high as third back in the 1990s, when visitation topped 9 million several times.

Nationwide, almost 330.9 million people visited 379 park service sites last year, roughly 89,000 shy of the all-time record of just under 331 million set in 2016, when the service celebrated its 100th anniversary.

“I think overall the National Park Service is starting to see its Find Your Park program work,” Vanover said of the promotional campaign the service launched in conjunction with its centennial. “And from Las Vegas, it’s really easy to find Lake Mead.”

The recreation area saw a 10 percent jump in visitation between 2016 and 2017, and most of that increase came through the three entrance stations closest to the Las Vegas Valley, Vanover said.

Business was similarly brisk in 2017 at other parks within a few hours’ drive of Las Vegas. Zion National Park in Utah saw its fourth straight year of record attendance with just over 4.5 million visitors, while Death Valley National Park in California notched its second-highest visitor total on record with just under 1.3 million visitors.

Zion has become so choked with tourists that the park service is considering a year-round online reservation system just to enter the main gate.

Even Great Basin National Park, typically one of the nation’s sleepiest sites, has seen a surge. The only national park located entirely in Nevada drew a record 168,000 visitors in 2017, an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. Prior to 2014, annual visitation at Great Basin never topped 100,000.

“Great Basin has now more than doubled its visitation in the past eight years,” said Curt Dimmick, the park’s acting superintendent.

In the summer months, that translates to crowded campgrounds and sold-out tours of Lehman Caves, though you can still find plenty of peace and quiet elsewhere the park, Dimmick said. “In the past, you didn’t have to worry about competition for campsites and things like that. Now you have to think about that.”

The nation’s busiest park site in 2017 was Blue Ridge Parkway, a 470-mile scenic road that meanders from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the park service’s third most heavily visited site, Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco fell to second after topping the list in 2016, 2014 and 2013.

Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City and New Jersey ranked fourth last year, followed by the Lincoln Memorial.

Contact Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like