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Backcountry Camping in National Parks Rises in 2009

It's nice to see I had a little company in the backcountry last year.  Statistics released by the National Park Service show that backcountry camping grew 2009, attracting the highest number of overnight stays since 2002. Way to backpack, everyone.

The figures for the past 10 years:

Year    Backcountry campers
2009    1,860,162
2008    1,797,912
2007    1,704,059
2006    1,659,484
2005    1,668,558
2004    1,725,309
2003    1,816,088
2002    1,906,473
2001    2,032,886
2000    1,935,276
                  Source: National Park Service

The numbers represent total nights spent in the backcountry, not unique visitors. If, for example, one backpacker spent 10 nights in the backcountry, that person would account for 10 "backcountry campers" in NPS statistics.

NPS maintains records for backcountry camping back to 1979. The peak year for backcountry campers occurred in 1983, with 2,579,716 nights spent in the backcountry. The all-time low occurred just four years later -- 1,574,706 in 1987. The mosquitoes must have been out in '87.

-- T.D. Wood

Posted on at 4:14 PM

Tagged: backcountry, backpacking and national parks

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englishsteel@121 Staff Member

These statistics made my week... very happy that as a country we're getting re-engergized to see these amazing places and "get out."

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Tugger

This is a good thing.
Maybe I'm thinking too deep but I really wonder how the economy has effected these numbers. Thanks for the stats.

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