Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison set visitation records in 2019

PROMO Outdoors - Mountains Trees Rocky Mountain National Park Snow - NPS
Published Saturday, February 29, 2020
by Derek Draplin | The Center Square

Rocky Mountain National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park both welcomed record numbers of visitors in 2019, the National Park Service announced.

Rocky Mountain National Park welcomed 4,670,054 visitors last year, up 1.7 percent from the previous year, according to recently released visitation numbers. The park had nearly one million visitors in July alone, the service said.

The park ranked third nationally for the highest number of visitors behind Great Smoky Mountains National Park (12.5 million) and Grand Canyon National Park (5.97 million).

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park also had a banner year breaking its visitation record from 1976 with almost 433,000 visitors.

Nationally, visitation increased by 9 million in 2019, up 2.9 percent from 2018, and total visitation hit 327 million throughout the park system, NPS said. 

"The 419 parks in the national park system provide a vast array of opportunities for recreation and inspiration for visitors of all ages," NPS Deputy Director David Vela said in a statement Thursday. "With at least one located in every state, national parks offer nearby history, culture and adventure."

Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park spent $306 million in 2018 in regions surrounding the park, such as Grand Lake and Estes Park.  

"These expenditures supported a total of 4,360 jobs, $164 million in labor income, $282 million in value added, and $464 million in economic output in local gateway economies surrounding Rocky Mountain National Park," according to an NPS profile of the park's economic contributions.

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PROMO Animal - Elk Rocky Mountain National Park - NPS
Elk at Rocky Mountain National Park. NPS.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park visitors spent $19.3 million in local economies and supported "241 jobs, $8.2 million in labor income, $14.3 million in value added, and $23.7 million in economic output in local gateway economies," according to NPS data. 

Both parks are facing significant backlogs on deferred maintenance, which are infrastructure maintenance costs that have been postponed because of budget constraints.

Rocky Mountain National Park had $84 million in deferred maintenance costs in 2018, while Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park had $7.8 million.

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