Jones & Swanson

Spike in Number of Visitors to National Parks

Social distancing orders are leading to a surge in park visits

Social distancing, while necessary to curb the curve of the pandemic, is a difficult requirement for many to abide by for as long as we have been. With national parks offering a safe change of scenery, many Americans have been flocking to spots like Yellowstone, which are reporting more car and tourist traffic than this time last year. Locals around the country recalled Zion National Park’s parking lot being full by 7 am on Memorial Day Weekend. Yellowstone National Park drew equally large crowds, with many out-of-town and even out-of-state visitors.

For parkgoers, driving safety should be given equal consideration as social distancing. With national parks welcoming a greater number of tourists, roadways leading up to them are becoming congested. Even with the nation’s roadways still being less populated than last year, the American roads are reportedly more dangerous, with drivers now more likely to be in a car accident than at this time last year.


National parks have historically been a favorite spot for vacationing families. Now, amidst the pandemic, they’re more popular than ever given their natural propensity for social distancing. Whereas in the past park-goers might have flown to their destinations, we’re now seeing an increasing number of people road tripping to their destinations. This spike, accredited to the safer nature of a car ride compared to an airplane right now, and the overall minimal availability of air travel, is leading to an obvious and predictable increase in car accidents.

While some drivers are enjoying the parks closest to them, others have opted to take advantage of the time off of work to go on a farther adventure. This tacks on extra miles, prolongs their presence on the road, and heightens the likelihood that they may be involved in some sort of vehicle accident.


Recreational vehicle retailers and renters have not been hard hit by the pandemic. In fact, just the opposite: many are struggling to keep up with the demand as people opt for RV travel and camping as a way to practice safe social distancing.

Campsites are experiencing the same rise in outdoor enthusiasts. In particular, campsites in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Minnesota reported noticeable spikes, and it’s safe to assume they’re not the only states to have witnessed such a rise.


The pandemic has alleviated the number of cars on the road while simultaneously rocketing the number of car accidents. Out-of-state drivers unfamiliar with the local roadways surrounding the national parks they are venturing to are likely a partial cause. Other causes have been cited as less-safe driving practices among those on the road, such as speeding. With the land at national parks being scenic, distracted driving can offer an additional cause of accidents.

RV rentals and purchases could add another danger, as many drivers are unfamiliar with best practices for driving a vehicle so cumbersome and bulky.


Following national orders, Kennesaw Mountain Park temporarily suspended public access earlier this year as the coronavirus pandemic continued to spike in cities across the country. On August 28, the park was finally able to begin a phased reopening plan, starting first with access to the Visitor Center, museum, gift shop, and bookstore.

Days later, on August 31, the park reopened Mountain Road and the Mountain Road parking lot. Shuttle bus services and the Visitor Center’s theater remained closed to appease social distancing guidelines and health regulations.

With the park and roadways reopened, we are anticipating a rise in visitors and traffic. We urge our community to remain alert on the roadways. Be a defensive driver, follow the rules of the road, and remember that we are available if ever you need us.

If you or a loved one have recently been involved in a car accident, contact Jones & Swanson for dedicated legal assistance today.

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