Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Park visitation remains busy this winter as this photo shows, which was taken about noon on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park. (Click arrows for additional photo.)Tire chain rentals are a growing business in Three Rivers in recent winters. The devices are available at many locations along the highway through Three Rivers, including at established businesses and pop-up shops.

115 years of park visitor stats

Sequoia-Kings Canyon sees influx of travelers
By: 
Sarah Elliott

 

As promised last week, “2017 was record year for park visitation” (February 23, 2018), here are more than a century of visitor numbers for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. While there has certainly been an marked increase in visitation in recent years, combined visitors to the local national parks have not yet reached the levels they were in the late 1970s into the early 1990s.
 
For the past two years, however, Sequoia National Park has tallied more visitors than have ever before been counted. And this is mainly at the Ash Mountain entrance station since collecting visitor fees at Mineral King is hit-and-miss and no entrance fees are collected at South Fork Campground.
 
Significant events
 
Here are a few milestones, both local and nationwide, that could have had either a positive or negative effect on park visitation in a given year:
 
1914-1918: World War I.
 
1917— First stairs built on Moro Rock.
 
1921— Wolverton Ski Bowl opened.
 
1923— Tharp’s Log restored.
 
1926— Generals Highway opened.
 
1928— Sequoia National Park was expanded to include Kern Canyon and Mt. Whitney.
 
1929-1939— Great Depression.
 
1932— High Sierra Trail completed.
 
1933— The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) arrived and during the next nine years built many park improvements. 
 
1935— Park-to-park section of highway completed that provided a direct route from Sequoia to General Grant National Park (Kings Canyon).
 
1940— Kings Canyon National Park created, which enlarged and absorbed General Grant National Park.
 
1941-1945— World War II.
 
1943— As a wartime economy measure, the administrations of Sequoia and Kings Canyon merged.
 
1954— For the first time, there were 1 million visitors to the parks.
 
1968—Kings Canyon had 1 million visitors for the first time.
 
1970— Lodgepole ice skating rink closed.
 
1976— For the first time, combined visitation reached 2 million (and Sequoia hit the 1 million mark for the first time).
 
1978— Mineral King added to Sequoia National Park.
 
1982— Wolverton Ski Bowl closed.
 
1998— Giant Forest Village closed.
 
1999— Wuksachi Village opened.
 
2001— President George W. Bush visited.
 
2002— Giant Forest Museum opened. Wolverton Pack Station closed.
 
2003— Mineral King Historic Landscape District created. Mineral King Pack Station closed.
 
 
Record visitation
 
Many individual parks have experienced their highest visitation ever in the past two years. In 2016, Yellowstone had more than 4.2 million visits, Yosemite recorded more than 5 million visits for the first time, Grand Canyon had just shy of 6 million visits, and Great Smoky Mountains surpassed 11 million visits for the first time.
 
Sequoia has been experiencing a steady increase in visitors since 2013 with a giant leap in 2016 over any previous year. And that held fairly steady for 2017.
 
 
Proposed fee increases
 
Proposed increases to entrance fees would affect 17 national parks during peak tourist seasons. In addition to Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Yosemite, and Joshua Tree in California, fee increases would affect visitors at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Glacier National Park in Montana, and Yellowstone in Wyoming.
 
The proposal, under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, would raise vehicle entrance fees to $70, from $25 or $30 today ($30 in Sequoia and Kings Canyon). Motorcycle fees would double or triple in some cases, from the current $15 to $25, to $50. Individual entrance fees would go from today’s cost of $10 to $15, to $30. If approved, the increases will go into effect this year, beginning in May at Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
 
The purpose of the increase is to bring in additional revenue to each of the parks. The proposal could also backfire and cause people to find alternatives to visiting national parks, which would not just reduce visitation to the parks but also provide a blow to the economies of the nearby communities, such as Three Rivers, that depend on park tourism dollars.
 
In November, California moved to block the proposal that would more than double entrance fees, arguing the fee increases would limit public access for low-income people and communities of color.
 
California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by 10 other attorneys general, said in a letter that the proposed increases “threaten to distance (Americans) from the places in which so many experience the natural wonder of our great and unique nation. ...All Americans should
have access to these lands, especially communities that have often been under-represented, including inner city children and Hispanic American and African American populations.”
 
 
SEQUOIA
 
Year # Visitors
1906— 700
1907— 900
1908— 1,251
1909— 854
1910— 2,407
1911— 3,114
1912— 2,923
1913— 3,823
1914— 4,667
1915— 7,647
1916— 10,780 
1917— 18,510
1918— 15,001
1919— 30,443
1920— 31,508
1921— 28,263
1922— 27,514
1923— 30,158
1924— 34,468
1925— 46,677
1926— 89,404
1927— 100,684
1928— 98,035
1929— 111,385
1930— 129,221
1931— 143,573
1932— 131,398
1933— 126,464
1934— 147,533
1935— 205,783
1936— 230,714
1937— 243,661
1938— 260,139
1939— 275,329
1940— 282,198
1941— 302,530
1942— 154,880
1943— 62,780
1944— 54,600
1945— 137,875
1946— 315,365
1947— 373,892
1948— 403,968
1949— 367,627
1950— 379,218
1951— 452,538
1952— 472,062
1953— 501,259
1954— 484,700
1955— 518,000
1956— 538,100
1957— 535,800
1958— 512,200
1959— 547,300
1960— 610,800
1961— 610,200
1962— 687,400
1963 631,700
1964— 654,100
1965— 877,300
1966— 797,800
1967— 746,900
1968— 874,300
1969— 919,300
1970— 875,700
1971— 878,500
1972— 867,051
1973— 845,500
1974— 686,600
1975— 957,000
1976— 1,040,600
1977— 978,200
1978— 973,056
1979— 799,576
1980— 862,397
1981— 1,083,002
1982— 1,020,500
1983— 854,233
1984— 979,632
1985— 939,468
1986— 1,056,527
1987— 1,139,389
1988— 1,031,129
1989— 1,056,020
1990— 1,063,538
1991— 1,120,278
1992— 961,095
1993— 1,066,552
1994— 1,034,133
1995— 844,582
1996— 838,060
1997— 1,008,931
1998— 861,303
1999— 873,229
2000— 838,947
2001— 870,327
2002— 920,292
2003— 979,297
2004— 1,000,177
2005— 1,004,843
2006— 954,507
2007— 979,537
2008— 930,011
2009— 965,170
2010— 1,002,979
2011— 1,006,583
2012— 1,106,584
2013— 909,274
2014— 1,039,137
2015— 1,097,464
2016— 1,254,688
2017— 1,291,256
 
 
KINGS CANYON
 
Year # Visitors
1906— 900
1907— 1,100
1908— 1,773
1909— 798
1910— 1,178
1911— 2,160
1912— 2,240
1913— 2,756
1914— 3,735
1915— 10,523
1916— 15,360
1917— 17,390
1918— 15,496
1919— 21,574
1920— 19,661
1921— 30,312
1922— 50,456
1923— 46,230
1924— 35,020
1925— 40,517
1926— 50,597
1927— 47,996
1928— 51,988
1929— 44,783
1930— 43,547
1931— 51,995
1932— 40,806
1933— 50,081
1934— 66,024
1935— 116,739
1936— 148,568
1937— 157,810
1938— 148,116
1939— 161,080
1940— 201,545
1941— 173,587
1942— 97,745
1943— 60,651
1944— 35,203
1945— 82,442
1946— 221,990
1947— 236,687
1948— 279,231
1949— 294,021
1950— 337,840
1951— 450,031
1952— 448,156
1953— 435,548
1954— 551,500
1955— 556,100
1956— 669,800
1957— 638,500
1958— 683,900
1959— 718,500
1960— 759,800
1961— 748,600
1962— 826,100
1963— 778,600
1964— 831,600
1965— 848,900
1966— 923,400
1967— 909,900
1968— 1,064,000
1969— 946,000
1970— 1,019,000
1971— 887,000
1972— 1,051,755
1973— 899,300
1974— 1,216,800
1975— 1,031,500
1976— 1,127,900
1977— 1,041,000
1978— 864,733
1979— 804,175
1980— 819,065
1981— 776,850
1982— 831,044
1983— 765,755
1984— 937,262
1985— 874,456
1986— 1,028,785
1987— 1,081,172
1988— 1,007,695
1989— 1,037,349
1990— 1,062,867
1991— 1,071,022
1992— 637,446
1993— 636,515
1994— 725,930
1995— 832,794
1996— 502,749
1997— 484,718
1998— 540,212
1999— 559,534
2000— 528,987
2001— 541,787
2002— 545,420
2003— 555,987
2004— 525,035
2005— 594,893
2006— 552,766
2007— 580,129
2008— 574,870
2009— 609,296
2010— 598,205
2011— 566,810
2012— 591,033
2013— 567,544
2014— 502,268
2015— 468,106
2016— 607,479
2017— 692,932

 

X