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Blue Ridge Parkway visitation tops 14M in 2020

A sign on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.
A sign on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.(WDBJ)
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 4:27 PM EST
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(WDBJ/National Park Service) - Blue Ridge Parkway managers say about 14,099,485 people visited the park in 2020. Despite impacts from road closures and the coronavirus pandemic, Parkway trails, overlooks and open spaces gave visitors a chance to to “recreate responsibly,” get outside and stay active, according to the National Park Service.

Visitation highlights from the Parkway in 2020, according to the National Park Service, include:

  • 2020 visitation represents an overall 6% decrease from 2019 Parkway recreation visits.
  • The Parkway took the top spot in National Park Service visitation as one of only three NPS sites that received more than 10 million recreational visits in 2020.
  • Visitation on the Parkway from September through December 2020 saw a slight, 2% increase over the previous year.

Regarding the decrease from 2019, a park service spokesman said, “In 2020, the National Park Service received 237 million recreation visits, down more than 90 million visits (27.6%) from 2019. The decrease was due largely to temporary park closures implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Visitation was the lowest since 1980, when there were about 325 parks, compared to 423 parks in the national park system in 2020. Sixty-six of the 423 parks were fully closed for two months or more, but just 12 historic and cultural parks remained closed at the end of 2020.”

Still, according to NPS, Blue Ridge Parkway claimed the top spot among all parks in 2020. The park moved up from second place in 2019.

“The 2020 visitation reminds us that the Parkway’s 1930s design approach, to maximize scenic views and recreational access, continues to be relevant today for those looking for respite and renewal,” said Blue Ridge Parkway Acting Superintendent Alexa Viets. “Our commitment to providing these experiences, while protecting the health of those who work and visit the parkway, continues as we plan for the 2021 visitor season.”

While the Parkway remains open, weather permitting, year-round, the traditional visitor season begins in the spring and continues through fall, according to the park service. Pakway Information is available at nps.gov/blri.

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