Parks across our region are seeing dramatic increases in visitation. Land managers are trying to balance visitor experience with conservation, including at the popular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just west of Las Vegas, Nevada.
"In 2017, we had about 2.1 million visitors," said John Asselin. He's a spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management. "In 2018, we had 3 million visitors."
Asselin says the entire Las Vegas area is seeing more visitors thanks to a strong economy. Those guests are venturing outside of the casinos into Red Rock during the day.
The agency has increased parking lot sizes and temporarily closed access roads during peak times. It's also looking into visitor shuttles. But Asselin says that's far off.
"In order to have shuttles, you have to have a bus fleet and a giant parking lot for people to park their cars. And since we're a national conservation area, we can't just build a parking lot wherever," he said.
The BLM commissioned a congestion report to look at this issue more closely. In the meantime, Asselin says anyone visiting Red Rock during the peak spring and fall seasons should come before 10 a.m.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KUNC and KRCC in Colorado.
Copyright 2019 KUNR. For more, visit kunr.org.