Protected area tourism in a changing climate: Will visitation at US national parks warm up or overheat?

Climate change will affect not only natural and cultural resources within protected areas but also tourism and visitation patterns. The U.S. National Park Service systematically collects data regarding its 270+ million annual recreation visits, and therefore provides an opportunity to examine how human visitation may respond to climate change from the tropics to the polar regions. To assess the relationship between climate and park visitation, we evaluated historical monthly mean air temperature and visitation data (1979–2013) at 340 parks and projected potential future visitation (2041–2060) based on two warming-climate scenarios and two visitation-growth scenarios.

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