On the heels of the Outdoor Foundation releasing a September 2009 report that indicated budget-minded U.S. travelers were camping more (a 7.4 percent increase in car and backyard camping based on 2008 figures -- click here to read the news release), the National Park Service year-to-date recreation numbers show the NPS isn’t tracking quite as positively in 2009, especially when factoring in backcountry camping.
While overall recreation visits to the U.S. national parks increased 4.2 percent from January to October 2009 when compared with 2008, October and September overall visits each declined 1.3 percent in 2009. RV and tent camping declined too in October and September although the decreases were marginal.
RV camping is up 3.7 percent and tent camping rose 5.5 percent in 2009 year-to-date. However, backcountry camping is down by .5 percent compared to 2008. The year-to-date decrease reverses the trend of incremental increases in backcountry camping numbers since 2006 when declines in backcountry camping bottomed out at 1,659,000. Both RV and tent camping were down in 2008, 4.5 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, so the increases in 2009 also represent a more significant overall positive swing. To view an excellent chart from the NSGA comparing tent, RV and backcountry NPS rec numbers, look below.
To read the numbers reported by the NPS, click here.