Blog Post

Insight: Record Utah Park Visitation Spanned Seasons and Destinations in 2021

By: Jennifer Leaver

As 2021 park visitation numbers roll in, Utah’s parks appear to have remained virtually unscathed by the 2020 pandemic, with visitation spread among both seasons and destinations.  For purposes of understanding 2021 park visitation in the context of “normal” visitation, I have compared 2021 with 2019 (pre-pandemic) visitation.

Utah’s five national parks reported a record 11.3 million visits in 2021 compared with 10.7 million in 2019; or, over a half-million additional visits and a 5.3% increase. However, on an individual level, not every national park reported record-setting visitation. In fact, while Zion gained a half-million visitors compared with 2019, Bryce Canyon was down a half-million (see Figure 1). Canyonlands had the largest two-year percent change (24.2%), while Capitol Reef and Canyonlands each welcomed around 180,000, and Arches experienced growth consistent with the past several years (8.7%).

Figure 1. National Park Visitation by Park, Two-Year Change, 2019—2021