Tourists are Loving America’s National Parks to Death

Careless actions on the part of park visitors are damaging U.S. natural wonders.

National Parks
People lie on the edge of a cliff to view the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Tourists flocking to America’s National Parks are putting the landscapes and natural wonders at severe risk.

Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, for example, one of the America’s most celebrated overlooks, has drawn hundreds of thousands of cell phone-carrying tourists. Over the past decade, photos of the area have spread “like wildfire” on social media, increasing visitor totals from a few thousand annually to 100,000 in 2010 alone, The Guardian reported. Visitation is expected to hit the 2 million mark this year.

“We’re exceeding the carrying capacity and because of it damage is being caused to park resources,” Dan Wenk, the former superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, told the news site.

Some 330.9 million people visited National Parks across the country between 2016 and 2017 — not far off the total U.S. population.

With these hordes of people come miles- and hours-long traffic backups that pollute the air and strain aged infrastructure, fist-fights over selfie spots and parking spaces, careless animal taunting and geothermal tampering, overflowing outhouses and piles of litter that scar the Parks, perhaps, beyond repair.

“Our own species is having the greatest impact on the park and the quality of the experience is becoming a casualty,” Wenk said.

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