Over the course of the past two years, the problem of declining tourism numbers at national parks throughout the United States has brought into question the amount of funding that is provided by the federal government for park upkeep and staffing. Those pointing to declining tourism numbers will generally argue for cutting of budgets associated with these areas, potentially even pushing for their sale to private entities for development. While the Antiquities Act signed by Theodore Roosevelt protects these areas from development, those opposed to their protection state that the standards for defining a protected space are too loose, and as a result the government of the United States controls valuable land that could be privately owned. The argument gained momentum using the declining tourism as a talking point, and as a last ditch effort to improve tourism numbers to the parks an advertising campaign was launched to raise awareness. The campaign illustrated the fact that there are national parks and protected areas within driving distance of many US residents, and that these areas are available for exploration by anyone who wants to visit. The campaign was a success, and grew tourism numbers to the point of quelling any argument for selling off the US national parks. It also created an interesting phenomenon, being that some parks showed significantly higher increases in tourism than others.
The national park that received the largest boost in tourism was Zion Canyon National Park. The increases in visitor numbers grew so large that there is now an effort to reduce congestion and traffic within park grounds. But why did the numbers grow so significantly at Zion Canyon National Park compared to other parks which are also in the general vicinity like Bryce Canyon or Monument Valley? The answer probably lies in its proximity to Las Vegas.
When considering vacations to national parks within the Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Southern California region of the US, tourists must consider their starting point. Federal regulations do not allow development within a specific surrounding area of a protected space, ultimately meaning that there is very little as far as hotels and restaurants in the surrounding areas. There is also almost nothing as far as nearby airports that can handle commercial airline traffic, which means that if you do not live within driving distance of the park you wish to visit, you are instead going to have to fly into the nearest major city and then drive from there. In the case of most of these parks, the closes cities are Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas is far more set up for tourist traffic. As a tourist location itself, it simply has far more to offer as far as entertainment, restaurant and hotel choices. Las Vegas is a far more popular place to fly into and stay for a few days, so those seeking exploration of a national park will generally see Las Vegas as a better choice of starting point.
From Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon is around a four hour drive. Most other parks are about this same distance from either city, and as a result the typical path is to visit more than one park on a single driving trip. By visiting several parks, you maximize your travel time to and from the first stop, and the main reason that Zion Canyon has become so much more popular than any of the other parks in the area is that it is only 2.5 hours drive from Las Vegas. For this reason, it is viewed as the logical first stop for people visiting multiple parks, and it is also viewed as the logical choice if you are only going to visit one park. You can drive to Zion in only a few hours from Las Vegas, explore the park and return back to your hotel room that night. You can also take one of the tours that are provided by the adventure tour companies located in Las Vegas for this very reason. They can take care of the driving and planning for you, allowing you to relax and simply enjoy the park. No matter if you choose to explore on your own or take a tour, Zion Canyon is the best choice from Las Vegas.
Author Biography: This article was written by Raymond Santopietro from Bindlestiff Tours. Bindlestiff Tours is a leading adventure tour provider specialized in the Southwestern United States, Alaska and Canada.