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Ski
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 12:55 pm 
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Snuffy wrote:
She gave a statistic that says 97% of National Park visitors never leave pavement.

Sounds about right. Well over 90% of National Park visitors are categorized as "windshield tourists" - never venturing more than a couple hundred feet from their automobiles.

Those that are in a state of panic about the truly wild places within National Parks aren't looking at the big picture.

Hesman wrote:
"...through traffic on 101 along Lake Crescent is counted in the grand total..."

It has been a number of years since I read the section about the "methodology" used at Olympic National Park for visitor number surveys. There may have been some changes made since then. My opinion is that the numbers cited are inaccurate, since (as you mention) traffic along Hwy 101 around Lake Crescent - as well as along the Kalaloch Coastal Strip - is factored in to the total numbers.

A similar situation exists at Mt. Rainier National Park: They can get an accurate count at the Nisqually entrance, and at Ohanapecosh, but they have no means of accurately keeping track of the traffic coming in or going out on Hwy 410 or at Carbon River.

When I went into Glacier NP, I avoided the main entrance gate by using a more northerly route via Camas Road.

Vehicle traffic in and out of Redwood National Park could feasibly be counted down at the bottom end of Bald Hill Road at its junction with Hwy 101, but it would be difficult to monitor vehicle traffic coming in from the top end of Bald Hill Road via Hoopa.

Visitor count reports are inherently flawed simply because in so many cases there's no practicable way to accurately count the actual number of visitors.

RodF might want to weigh in on this one - he may be more conversant in the current methodology used at ONP.

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thunderhead
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 1:00 pm 
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Olympic also has a lot of access points.  The beaches, all those different valleys, hurricane ridge... I could see it having much higher total visitation than it seems given the relative emptiness at any given spot.

Whereas these others are going to concentrate folks in much worse traffic jams.  Basically everyone at Yellowstone is going to follow a couple roads and converge on old faithful.  EVERY tourist at Yosemite is going to spend the majority of their time in the one valley.
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WaState
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 1:26 pm 
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The harder it is to get there the fewer people you will see.  Get off the trail into the the brush it is just you and bigfoot!!
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treeswarper
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 1:34 pm 
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I think I have only been to Mt Rainier twice--once for a picnic and once mostly driving around.  I found just as pretty country outside and my dog could go with me.  That's why I probably won't get far off the pavement in a NP because my dog is along.

Grand Canyon allows dogs on a few paved trails, but only one or two of the trails and none going down into the canyon.  They also have a kennel which my hiking friends put their dog into while we went down.  Wish the other parks did that.


I do not have a TV anymore, but the Park Service sure was advertising for people to visit parks.


I may go to the desert in early spring and will look at BLM and Forest Service places for any camping or hiking.

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Ski
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 1:52 pm 
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Thunderhead wrote:
Olympic also has a lot of access points.

It's not just an issue of access points.
The visitation numbers are skewed because people passing through - either on Hwy 101 around Lake Crescent, or Hwy 101 along the Kalaloch Coastal Strip, or Hwy 410 between Greenwater and Naches - may or may not be visiting the Park or using any of its facilities or infrastructure. They may simply be passing through.
I've driven up over Chinook Pass many times via Hwy 410 and never stopped in MRNP - just drove straight through over to a fishing hole on the Naches or to go dive into the river at Horseshoe Bend.

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Schroder
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 1:56 pm 
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I went to Yellowstone a couple of years ago in September and yes, the campgrounds were crowded and difficult to get into but out on the trails we saw no one.  The people were all crowded around Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic and didn't go much further.
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thunderhead
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 2:11 pm 
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It does seem silly to count every vehicle on 101 or 410 as a park visitor, if they are doing that.
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RandyHiker
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 2:20 pm 
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Hesman wrote:
I read somewhere that since through traffic on 101 along Lake Crescent is counted in the grand total and it makes it appear that Olympic gets more visitation that it actually does.

Is that how visitation is counted?  With Mt Rainier there is a gate on all the paved roads leading into the park...

Olympic and North Cascades lack gates , but nearly all people driving over Washington Pass is doing it for recreational reasons.

I've seen logging trucks along Lake Cresent, so some amount visitation inflation would make sense, but "Twilight" fans driving along the lake to get to Forks and taking in the view seem every much as legitimate visitors as folks heading over HWY-20 to the Omak Stampede.

Do you know if there is a different ranking based on on "Day tickets sold / Annual passes used"
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 2:42 pm 
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Well... you'd have to read the "methodology" part of those visitor number reports, Randy - they do factor in traffic on 101 around Lake Crescent and along the Kalaloch Coastal Strip, and they have some sort of mathematical formula to arrive at what is supposedly a credible number.

At Rainier, there's no "gate" per se either going up into the Park on 410 from Greenwater, or up at Chinook Pass to count traffic coming in from the east.

Some of it's "best estimate" stuff.

Again, Rod might have better insight on this one - he's better at ferreting out the little nuances in these reports than I am.

==

And you are correct in making the point about "visitors" being those who are simply driving through - to a degree that is true: they're just there for the views (same as those driving up and over the Steven Mather Memorial Parkway (Hwy 410).

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RumiDude
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 2:50 pm 
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If you wanna go see stuff, then GO!

If you let articles like that keep you from visiting places, then it's your own fault. Try more for the shoulder season or plan ahead with a mapped out itinerary.

When I was young (born 1952), my parents took us to see many things. My mother didn't work outside the home and my father was an electrical lineman with the local utility co. We had a family of five. So we were not poor but we didn't have lots of money to spare either. As I grew up we visited several NPs; including GSMNP, Shenandoah NP, Petrified Forest NP, Rocky Mountain NP, Grand Canyon NP, Yosemite NP, King Canyon NP, Redwoods NP,  Death Vally NP. We visited nearly every Civil War battlefield we could. We traveled up the East coast, along the Gulf coast, the Great Lakes, and in general just every place they thought was interesting to go. I had visited over half the states of the US before I turned 16 years old. My point is that my parents didn't wait till they were comfortable to take us places, they just went. Later they told me they sometimes wondered if they were going to have enough money to get gas on the way back home.

When we visited Yosemite in 1964, there was a limit to vehicles allowed in. In other words, there was a line at the entrance and when capacity had been reached, they did not let another car in until a car left. Many places we visited were crowded. Facilities were much more primative at many places. All this before Instagram, Facebook, or even the internet.

My guess is that Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon impress with or without crowds of people.

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RandyHiker
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 3:02 pm 
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Ski wrote:
At Rainier, there's no "gate" per se either going up into the Park on 410 from Greenwater, or up at Chinook Pass to count traffic coming in from the east.

There are gates/fee booths to White River and Ohanapecosh and perhaps you didn't notice there is a counting mechanism at the big log arches that you drive though at the Crystal Mtn Blvd intersection and at Chinook Pass.

It would be interesting to know details of the methodology used for factoring "visitors" from "commercial", etc

But I seems there is a presumption that ONP is sandbagging the numbers.  I don't know about ONP personnel,  but other federal employees I've known were pretty persnickety about precise numbers and doing things the right way, but my sample size is small.
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 3:04 pm 
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That article, as well as the one it linked to regarding Kanarra Creek Falls, made me shudder. Couches in the slot canyon? *facepalm*

So glad I visited Horseshoe Bend, et al, prior to the Instagram mobs. Those visitation numbers are unreal.
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 5:44 pm 
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Quote:
There are gates/fee booths to White River and Ohanapecosh and perhaps you didn't notice there is a counting mechanism at the big log arches that you drive though at the Crystal Mtn Blvd intersection and at Chinook Pass.

It would be interesting to know details of the methodology used for factoring "visitors" from "commercial", etc

But I seems there is a presumption that ONP is sandbagging the numbers.  I don't know about ONP personnel,  but other federal employees I've known were pretty persnickety about precise numbers and doing things the right way, but my sample size is small.

Yes, there is a little building at Ohanapecosh, which is staffed sometimes. It is not staffed all of the time - if nobody's there, you just drive right in.
There may or may not be "tire counters" at Ohanapecosh, or at the entrane near Crystal Mountain Road (or on the Upper Queets Road, for that matter.) Tire counters count the number of axles that have triggered the mechanism; a multi-axle trailer will trip it several times - a guy driving a big truck hauling a boat trailer, or a stock trailer, is going to affect the count.

Again, you'd have to read the documents and pick through the section on methodology.

True, among some there may well be a presumption that the numbers are inflated. There may also be people who believe the numbers do not accurately reflect the actual number of users in a given area. The Lower Queets Road is a really good example - nobody's keeping track of how many guys are driving up there putting boats in the river when the steelhead and winter Chinook are running, unless an NPS staff member (or LEO) goes up there and does a physical count, which isn't too often.

To be clear: I am not suggesting that NPS is "sandbagging" anybody - that's hardly the case.
I've read through those reports, I've read the sections on methodology, and I've talked with staff people up in PA about the numbers. I believe they do as good a job as they can, and they strive for accuracy.
What I am saying is that simply due to the multiple points of egress in and out of various National Parks which are not monitored, or oddball sites that are virtually impossible to monitor (Queets, Bogachiel, Bald Hill Road at Redwood NP, the northwest route into Glacier NP, etc.) that those numbers have to be considered as accurate as they are able to determine, but not absolutely 100% correct.

In the case of the traffic on Hwy 101 around Lake Crescent, and along the Kalaloch Coastal Strip, I think their numbers are somewhat inflated.
But then, as I mentioned above, it's simply not possible for them to make an accurate count of vehicles going in and out of the Queets (or the Bogachiel), so the visitor numbers at those locations, in my humble opinion, are significantly underestimated.
Maybe the two combined even things out, though. I'm not a mathematician or a statistician - you'll have to pick through the reports and make your own determination there.

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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 7:17 pm 
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I wonder how many of the people complaining about overcrowding on this post have children....
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PostTue Nov 20, 2018 7:25 pm 
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True.  If nobody had more than 2 children population would go down because not everyone would have 2 or any, and some always die before reproducing.

I always wonder what people who have large families today are thinking.  Especially right now when sh## is likely to hit fan during said childrens lifespan.

Plenty of adpotion and fostering opportunities for those wanting a lot of children.
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