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National Parks Popular Despite Hot Weather and Wildfire Risk

Dave Dennis

Many tourism-based businesses in Colorado have reported a dip invisitors this summer due to the busy wildfire season. But officials with Rocky Mountain National Park aren’t complaining.

Colorado made national headlines in June with two of the most destructive wildfires in state history, the Waldo Canyon and High Park fires. But it’s not the kind of attention the tourism industry necessarily wants to attract.

That on top of a park wide burn ban being in place during most of the month of June and the park’s main entrance being temporarily closed because of the Woodland Heights Fire in Estes Park could have spelled disaster for Rocky Mountain National Park.

But, June visitor numbers only dipped 0.1% compared to June of 2011.

Rocky Mountain National Park is the sixth most popular national park in the country. And according to the Coloradoan, the park’s visitation is up almost 16 percent this year compared to January to June of 2011.

Wyoming’s main national park seems to be having the same luck. Despite an active wildfire season in that state, visitation to Yellowstone National Park was up by 6.3%  to 674,498 compared to June of last year.

Yellowstone ranks as the third most popular park in the country and averages about three million visitors each year.  The annual visitation number is also up at the park. So far this year, visitation has increased by nearly 11% compared to January to June in 2011.

My journalism career started in college when I worked as a reporter and Weekend Edition host for WEKU-FM, an NPR member station in Richmond, KY. I graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.A. in broadcast journalism.
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