National Parks In The Selfie Era: ““Most visitors just don’t know how to behave in a wild place”

The UK Guardian is usually a hotbed of hardcore Leftism, ‘climate change’ insanity, and environmental extremism. This, though, is worth the full read, a long expose by Annette McGivney, Patrick Reilly, Brian Maffly, Todd Wilkinson, Gabrielle Canon, Michael Wright and Monte Whaley

Crisis in our national parks: how tourists are loving nature to death

Just before sunset near Page, Arizona, a parade of humanity marched up the sandy, half-mile trail toward Horseshoe Bend. They had come from all over the world. Some carried boxes of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, others cradled chihuahuas and a few men hid engagement rings in their pockets. But just about everyone had one thing at the ready: a cellphone to snap a picture.

Horseshoe Bend is one of the American west’s most celebrated overlooks. From a sheer sandstone precipice just a few miles outside Grand Canyon national park, visitors get a bird’s-eye view of the emerald Colorado river as it makes a U-turn 800ft below. Hundreds of miles from any large city, and nestled in the heart of south-west canyon country, Horseshoe Bend was once as lonely as it was beautiful.

“It was just a local place for family outings,” recalls Bill Diak, 73, who has lived in Page for 38 years and served three terms as its mayor. “But with the invention of the cellphone, things changed overnight.”

Horseshoe Bend is what happens when a patch of public land becomes #instagramfamous. Over the past decade photos have spread like wildfire on social media, catching the 7,000 residents of Page and local land managers off guard.

According to Diak, visitation grew from a few thousand annual visitors historically to 100,000 in 2010 – the year Instagram was launched. By 2015, an estimated 750,000 people made the pilgrimage. This year visitation is expected to reach 2 million.

The two sad parts are that they are damaging the areas and they don’t even really care about the beauty of the view, they just want a selfie or a shot for Instagram or something. They aren’t there to respect and appreciate the beauty.

“Social media is the number one driver,” said Maschelle Zia, who manages Horseshoe Bend for the Glen Canyon national recreation area. “People don’t come here for solitude. They are looking for the iconic photo.”

That should be “the iconic photo of themselves.”

Backcountry trails are clogging up, mountain roads are thickening with traffic, picturesque vistas are morphing into selfie-taking scrums. And in the process, what is most loved about them risks being lost.

No comment necessary

On a recent August day in Hayden Valley, a “bison jam” stretched nearly two miles long. As the herd moved steadily across the road, a scene of frantic commotion began to unfold. Travelers excitedly scrambled from their vehicles. Bison passed within inches, even brushing up against the cars. Some tourists temporarily abandoned their vehicles in the hope of getting close enough for a photo.

Impatient motorists tooted their horns as park rangers tried to bring order. “My job is to manage people, not animals, and I try not to get upset,” said one in uniform. “Most visitors just don’t know how to behave in a wild place.”

People can’t just enjoy things anymore, they have to make it all about themselves. Read the rest. Which gets worse, if you can believe it, as it also includes the messes left behind.

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3 Responses to “National Parks In The Selfie Era: ““Most visitors just don’t know how to behave in a wild place””

  1. formwiz says:

    Darwin Awards.

  2. JGlanton says:

    Yeah I’ve seen a big change in park attendance and availability over my lifetime. Now I won’t go near a Nat’l Park or even some state parks in the summer or holiday weeks. You can’t even get into many of them on weekends in Oct/Nov without reservations long in advance. Try to get into a big park in the spring when the water is flowing, or in autumn when the leaves are changing, and you better have a good plan to find accommodations and avoid the worst of the crowds. Campsites take advance planning, too. Hiking trails are packed with humanity. Restaurants are very expensive and crowded. Roads are crowded and crawling, loaded with cops, and a parking spot can be as hard to find as Manhattan. In the old days it was easy to go to a great park at short notice and feel like you got away from it all. Now, if you aren’t careful, it can be an extension of the rat race.

  3. riverrider says:

    yeah, went to the smokies this october, thought off season would be less crowded. boy were we wrong. some idiot on tv said the leaves were peaking even though they were still all green and the flood of city slickers was on. 27 miles over the mountain bumper to bumper, every pull-over jammed with screaming kids climbing on stuff while their parents were too busy taking selfies to reign them in. crappy food and service too. i’m never going back. when i was a kid i could go and not see another person all day. and omg, the local elk herd came out next to the road and folks went batcrap crazy. i stopped just to watch them get trampled but i guess the elk felt sorry for the ignorant fools that day.

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