US national parks are crowded – and so are many national forests

Interesting reading from The Conversation: ” US national parks are crowded – and so are many national forests, wildlife refuges, battlefields and seashores.”


While research shows that spending time outside is good for physical and mental health, long lines and gridlocked roads can make the experience a lot less fun. Crowding also makes it harder for park staff to protect wildlife and fragile lands and respond to emergencies. To manage the crowds, some parks are experimenting with timed-entry vehicle reservation systems and permits for popular trails.

I can offer one example: At the spectacular Multnomah Falls, in Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, parking and traffic has been so bad in recent years that these days a “Timed Use Permit will be required daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m from May 26 through September 4, 2023.” Permits are only available via — none are available on site.

My take: these permits are annoying and don’t fully solve the overcrowding problem, but the USFS had to do something.


5 thoughts on “US national parks are crowded – and so are many national forests”

  1. Agree. And at some point the responsibility falls upon the user. If the place you want to go is crowded, find a less crowded place. I understand this is hard for some, which makes it incumbent on those of us who have that flexibility to use it. Find your healing place – it’s the place that makes you whole, not the place that makes you poplar on Instagram.

    Ok – I’m going to yell at clouds now …

  2. So many government systems are this way – as computerized systems have been outsourced, these types of fees are common – and even as federal budgets shrink or stay flat and federal agencies have to cut funding internally, these types of applications charge additional fees. As an example, the Forest Service, and perhaps other agencies have outsourced systems that handle travel vouchers for employees. That used to be an internal Forest Service program. It was outsourced, and now on top of the reimbursement of travel expenses of employees the company that runs that system can leverage a lot of additional “processing” fees. Sure, some of that is in lieu of the Forest Service hiring employees to run that type of system/service, but some of them, like requiring you to use this system to make a hotel reservation and charging you a fee for that, are not. To save money at the district level many folks would just bypass that and make their own travel reservations, but then direction came out that we had to use the system (and pay the fee) with very few exceptions. Hmmm. Same for travel reimbursements – you are now required (with a few exceptions) to have a credit card for federal travel and you are required to use it – and the main purpose is to allow the vendor that provides the card to get a certain amount of funds from the processing fees. It would be much cheaper to allow employees to use their own personal credit cards, but employees are required to use these other cards specifically to provide funds to the provider of the card. So there is a whole lot of this type of thing going on – more than just I just wonder about the ethics of it sometimes and whether it is really saving money or is just a way to support big businesses that make political contributions.

  3. Absolutely, both NPS and US Forest Service need to be more tech oriented and more creative. I frequent Assateague NS and the management there is archaic. Lines to get in stretch for miles and there is no limit on entry. As a result people park all over the place and the cars sit in idle for hours to get in. And to add insult to injury it took four months for the NPS to get back to my Congressman to whom I lodged my concerns and suggestions. Granted resources are limited and the use overwelming but the NPS in particular needs to bring in young people who can be creative and tech oriented. A better experience for all users will foster greater appreciation by all users and further the goal of protecting resources while providing public access.


Leave a Comment

Discover more from The Smokey Wire : National Forest News and Views

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading