FLAGSTAFF – James and Kay Barr had visited 20 national parks over the course of their seven-week vacation, ranging from Olympic National Park in coastal Washington to Badlands National Park in South Dakota. When the Los Angeles couple spotted a sign for Sunset Crater National Park on the way home from the Grand Canyon, they decided on a whim to visit a 21st. “We saw it on the side of the road, and figured we might as well visit,” Kay Barr said. While the Barrs made a point of visiting more of these wonders, visitor counts show that fewer people have been visiting Arizona’s national parks than they did in previous years. Of the 20 national parks, monuments, recreation areas and trading posts in Arizona with visitation data on the National Park Service website, 15 saw fewer visitors in 2013 than they did in 1990. The overall attendance at Arizona’s parks over that span has dropped 18 percent.
By Stephen Hamway.