Death Valley experiences record spring visitation.
What do wildflowers and Facebook have in common? Record breaking visitation at Death Valley National Park (DVNP). March 2016 was the busiest month in the park’s history, exceeding any other by more than 80,000 visitors. That month saw 213,212 visitors, far ahead of the 133,300 visitors that March 2010, the previous record-holder, saw.
DVNP had 1,154,843 visitors in 2015, according to a recently published visitor analysis report from the National Park Service (NPS). This translates into $95,036,900 spent in communities near the park. “That spending supported 1,336 jobs in nearby communities and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $124,098,200,” according to a press release from DVNP.
Craig Dalby, Chief Public Information Officer for NPS, Southwest Region, said there’s not a county-by-county breakdown of jobs or spending.
Several roads in the park have been washed out due to flooding, limiting access to some areas and the iconic Scotty’s Castle will not reopen until 2019 due to flood damage. But the closed signs were no deterrent. ‘Super blooms’ of wildflowers, like the one this year are a big draw, but social media is being credited for luring in the huge crowds.
“We attribute (the increase in visitation) to that because it’s the only thing that’s significantly different,” Abigail Wines, Management Assistant for DVNP told The Sheet.
The super bloom in 2005 was impressive. There was so much water in the park, kayakers were launching near Stovepipe Wells. While 2005 received national media attention, it was before the widespread use of social media.
Seasonal Ranger Diane Milliard began posting photos of the flowers to the park’s Facebook page. Wines said Milliard wasn’t asked to post, but acted on her own volition since there’s not a dedicated social media facilitator in the park. The posts went viral. One from March 5 for the Wildflower Blooming Map was shared 4,083 times.