The government’s reservation system for activities on federal lands, Recreation.gov, is a rich source of data that can help shed light on managing the growing number of visitors to national parks.
- Campgrounds in many national parks are filled to capacity during the peak seasons but there is variability across the parks by season and day of week.
- This variability suggests some room for improvements in fee structures and other ways of managing use.
- Campsite reservations at most national parks are made far in advance, but many reservations are canceled at the last minute; increasing cancellation penalties may improve the efficiency of the reservation system.
- Campers tend to visit national parks near their homes and stay only two nights; longer trips are rare.
- The distribution of incomes of campers appears to be similar to the US population as a whole.