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Big Bend National Park Tallies Busiest Year In 2017


Big Bend National Park saw record visitation last year/Rebecca Latson

Big Bend National Park in Texas recorded its busiest year on record in 2017, with 442,641 visitors coming to the park. That tally surpassed even 2016's visitation of 388,290 during the National Park Service centennial year.

The record turnout last year marked a 14 percent increase from the previous year.

Visitation patterns showed a significant increase during the month of March, when a combination of cactus blooms, moderate weather, and spring break filled campgrounds and backcountry sites consistently for the entire month, the park reported. In addition to this and the typical busy holidays, the park also saw a marked increase during the hot summer months, with the Chisos Mountain Lodge remaining booked throughout the summer for the first time in its history.

Last year also saw the opening of the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, the largest addition to interpretive exhibits in the park in more than 50 years. This building contains fossils that span the more than 130 million years of paleontology preserved in the park. In addition, visitors come to explore hundreds of miles of roads and hking trails, to experience incredible scenic vistas, to float the canyons of the Rio Grande, and to view the darkest night skies in the lower 48 states.

"Seeing an increase in visitation speaks to importance of parks and wild places," said Acting Superintendent Allen Etheridge. "We welcome the opportunity to share this amazing park with visitors, and give them a place to decompress, recreate, and reconnect with nature."

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