LAS VEGAS - It's Spring, so the visitation numbers at national parks across the country have been record breaking, including right here in southern Nevada.
At Lake Mead, visitation increased 13 percent last year. The national recreation area is ranked seventh highest in attendance across the United States. But the busy season is even more pronounced by overcrowding at smaller parks like Red Rock conservation area.
In just the past five weeks Red Rock National Conservation area has had to temporarily close six times! Officials at the Bureau of Land Management call it "Red Rock Season," which means thousands of people are coming out before the summer heat hits.
When the 8 News NOW crews drove into Red Rock to report on this issue, there was even a back up along the side of the scenic route loop.
"This is the most crowded I've ever seen it," said Bereket Michael, Las Vegas resident. It's hard to get parking in fact."
"Yea, kind of surprised, said Laurie Los, visiting from Colorado.
Outside Calico Tanks Trails, visitors aren't double or even quadrupled parked. They're parked five deep, and there's blockage on both sides, and all of this happened on a Wednesday.
"Do you know what's happening here? Is it normally like this," West Humphries who was visiting from Colorado asked?
The 10-year old child was is in the Las Vegas valley because he and his 6-year old sister Liv are on a road trip with their family.
"It was pretty bad, like pretty bad traffic," West said.
West and his family who came to Red Rock by way of Zion National Park, seem to know a lot about these majestic lands known as national parks.
"We do go hiking a lot," West said. "It was pretty crowded, especially when we went to the top of Angels Landing where they have the chains. There was like two-way traffic."
Zion saw almost 4.3-million visitors just last year.
Katie Boer, Reporter: "So you guys are pro hikers then?"
West: (laughs) "Yea."
Boer: "You guys are professional!"
West: "Yeah, definitely. "
According to statistics, national park visitation spiked a whopping 7.7 percent across the country. That's more than 23 million more visitors last year compared to 2015.
Visitation at Red Rock has more than doubled the past few years; 2.5 million in fact just last year.
But for many hikers, "It's pretty. It's very pretty," West said. "Oh, yea, definitely worth it."
"And the colors are beautiful," according, Live.
So, here are a couple of tricks to beat overcrowding:
- Arrive early. The park opens at 6 a.m.
- Avoid peak hours between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Red Rock has added 150 new parking spaces that will be complete by this summer.
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