National park visits hits record high for 3rd straight year

(KRQE/File Photo) Carlsbad Caverns National Park

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Visits to U.S. national parks set a record in 2016 for the third consecutive year as landmarks such Zion, Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain experienced historic levels of popularity that brought collateral headaches stemming from overcrowded roads and trails and increasing visitor misbehavior.

At many parks, visitors waited an hour or more in cars to get through entrance gates and then spent the day trying to outmaneuver fellow visitors for parking spots and room on popular trails. They left behind enormous amounts of trash.

Park officials say encountering a crowded, Disneyland-like situation when people were expecting serenity can lead to aggression and bad decisions.

Overall visitation to national parks is on track to surpass 325 million in 2016, breaking last year’s all-time high of 307 million, federal figures show.