The overcrowding of Zion National Park: is it a pricing problem?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Albert N. Link, Professor (Creator)
Christopher A. Swann, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: In 2017, The New York Times sounded the alarm that ‘the number of [U.S. national] park visitors have reached an unprecedented level, leaving many tourists frustrated and many environmentalists concerned about the toll of overcrowding.’ We address herein the overcrowding issue at Zion National Park in an effort to provide empirical context for upcoming Congressional consideration of entrance fees at national parks under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Zion is the fourth largest of the 63 U.S. national parks encompassing 148 thousand acres and welcoming 4.5 million recreation visits in 2019. We determine from U.S. National Park Service data that severe overcrowding occurs during the summer months of June, July, and August. One way to possibly reduce overcrowding is to increase the price. We estimate that if the entrance fee to Zion was increased from $35.00 per vehicle to $70.00 per vehicle during those months, the number of recreation visits would decrease by more than 18 percent and would result in an acceptable number of recreation visits defined to be what is experienced in May.

Additional Information

Journal of Environmental Economics and Policy, 2022, DOI: 10.1080/21606544.2021.2012837
Language: English
Date: 2021
national parks, Zion National Park, Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, elasticity of demand

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