Accessing Visitor Use Data

Data Limitations and Considerations

There are several ways to access Visitor Use Statistics data. Regardless of how you choose to access the data, it does have its limitations. Please read through the following list prior to using data ensure appropriate usage and interpretation.

Current year data are preliminary and must be thoroughly reviewed by the Social Science Program prior to being considered final. For that reason, most data are available only through last calendar year. If electing to use current year data, please use caution as it may not be complete or controlled for quality.

The way visitor use statistics have been tracked and reported has changed over time. More information related to these shifts is available on the History and Policy page, but here is a quick guide to what data is available for different time periods:

  • 1904-1979 | Annual recreation visits
  • 1979-1992 | Annual and monthly values for the 11 official statistics
  • 1992-Present | Same as previous with addition of park level data inputs used to calculate official statistics.

Parks change their methods for tracking and calculating visitor use stats from time to time. This can result in trend shift in the years following a change.

Park operations and usage by visitors changes over time for most parks. Updating counting methods can take a great deal of time and financial resources for the park, making it challenging to keep measurement systems completely current and accurate.

Parks also must sometimes rely on estimated data due to equipment failures, staffing limitations, and unforeseeable circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters.

Depending on the data source, data users may notice slight rounding discrepancies across different reports.

Once the calendar year is over and data for a given year is finalized, no changes to the underlying values can be made. Some parks' data may contain permanent errors. Errors are noted in the Endnotes of the Annual Statistical Abstracts.

Visitor Use Statistics Data Portal

The NPS Visitor Use Statistics Program maintains a large data set with annual recreation visit estimates from 1904-1978 and monthly visitation estimates from 1979 to present. Electronic database records for all inputs and outputs have been kept since the early 1990s.

All Visitor Use Statistics data are housed within Integrated Resource Management Applications (IRMA) Portal. Users can chose from a set of standard reports to view aggregated national level data, or park specific data.

Visitor Use Statistics Dashboard

While our Statistics Data Portal is the best place for downloading datasets and accessing reports, the Visitor Use Statistics Dashboard shows visitation data in a dynamic and visual way.

The dashboard includes simple line chart visualizations for the the 11 official visitor use statistics. Visuals can be viewed at the monthly or annual level, and filters can be applied to see data for a specific park or designation. The data span from the most recently reported year back to 1979, the year in which every park unit began reporting monthly data for all 11 statistics. Prior to that time, only annual recreation visits are consistently available.

Need Help?

If you're still not able to find what you are looking for in the Visitor Use Statistics Data Portal, reach out to the Visitor Use Statistics Staff to inquire.


Last updated: April 6, 2023


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