Yosemite National Park entertains millions every year with alpine wilderness, sequoia groves, and a glacier-carved valley of unmatched beauty. Let’s take a look at some interesting visitor use statistics for this big, gorgeous park.
Except where noted, the statistics cited are for calendar year 2009.
Recreational visits. To put that in perspective, Yosemite’s annual visitation is slightly greater than the entire population of Los Angeles, America’s second-most populous city.
Approximate number of visitors who took the park’s concessionaire-operated, open-air trailer tours. The standard tour is a two-hour, ranger-narrated loop that includes the valley floor and Glacier Point. The four hybrid diesel tractors that replaced the old propane-fueled tractors in 2009 get eight times the mileage with an 85% reduction in emissions.
Instances of law breaking or rules infractions resulting in rangers issuing warnings (20,529) or citations (2,886). Typical fines: $250 for disturbing wildlife and $150 for takings pets into wilderness.
Wilderness permits issued. Considering that 93% of Yosemite’s acreage is federally-designated wilderness, and that there are 800 miles of trails in the park (including lengthy segments of the Pacific Crest and John Muir Trails), it’s not surprising that backpackers logged 142,623 wilderness stays during 2009.
Approximate peak overnight population of seven square-mile Yosemite Valley, including park employees, during the summer months.
Motor vehicle accidents reported. This compares with 405 in 2005, a year when there were half a million fewer visitors.
Search and rescue operations. Yosemite National Park, like Grand Canyon National Park, Gateway National Recreation Area, and several other NPS units, generates conspicuously high SAR statistics.
Percentage of summer visitors who are California residents, according to the most recent comprehensive survey (July 8-17, 2005). The same survey established that about 18% of summer visitors are internationals.
Average age of Yosemite visitors, based on the 2005 survey cited above. Since the average age of the non-response group was 42, “mid-40s” is about right.
Visiting U.S. Presidents who signed the “Grand Register of Yo-Semite Valley,” a registry maintained at a Yosemite bathhouse/saloon during the early days of Yosemite tourism. Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, and James Garfield all signed the register when it was being actively maintained (1873-1884), while Theodore Roosevelt signed it much later (1903).
Postscript: My, what a difference a century can make. In 1912, the last year of the park’s stagecoach era, annual visitation was 11,000.