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The pandemic virtually shut down the national parks system in 2020, with federal closures shutting down various sites across the country. Visitors to Yellowstone National Park from January to May fell by more than 70% during the same period in 2019.
However, the park system came back in force in 2021 as visitors to the country’s most majestic places arrived at record rates. In May, Yellowstone had the highest number of visitors recorded in that month, and through May, the park had more visitors since the start of the year than in the past five years.
That the breathtaking surroundings of famous parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite attract visitors at record rates is no surprise. Nationally, outdoor activities saw a significant increase in participation in 2020, with people turning to outdoor hobbies to ease the stress of the pandemic.
And for those who love history, the National Park Service (NPS) historic sites offer an intersection between the beauty of the outdoors and American history. While the NPS is best known for its large, scenic parks, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks, more than half of the areas it manages were created to commemorate people and events significant to the history of the nation. The National System of Sites of Historic Significance, including National Battlefields and Battlefield Parks, National Military Parks, National Historic Sites and Parks, and National Memorials, attracts tens of millions of visitors each. year. And while the park system took a heavy hit in ridership in 2020, pre-pandemic trends indicate the growing popularity of these destinations.