NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A new report from the National Park Service (NPS) says that, although the majority of the country’s national parks saw a continuing rebound in attendance from pandemic numbers, many New Mexico NPS sites saw a dip in 2022. Most of the state’s sites saw a decrease of thousands of visitors compared to 2021 numbers.
Only three of the 15 New Mexico parks and historical sites on the list saw an increase in visitation – Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the Chaco Culture and Manhattan Project national historical parks. Chaco Culture and the Manhattan Project saw increases of 9,672 and 1,202 visits, respectively. Carlsbad Caverns saw the biggest gains with a jump of 41,688 people.
The rest of the New Mexico parks saw decreases from 2021 numbers. White Sands saw the biggest drop from 782,469 to 705,127; a loss of 77,342. Previously in 2020, White Sands only saw 415,383 visitors in the first year of the pandemic. However, in 2019, White Sands pulled in only 608,785; so 2022’s numbers are still considerably higher compared to pre-pandemic numbers.
Other spots seeing sizeable losses were Petroglyph National Monument with a drop of 24,817 visits and El Malpais National Monument with 18,974 fewer visits than 2021’s attendance. Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument saw the smallest dip in attendance with 890 fewer visits.
Overall in the U.S., there were nearly 312 million recreational visits in 2022. This is a great deal higher than 2020’s count of just over 237 million, but still lower than 2019’s report of 327.5 million.