grand canyon

Jim Roth

Many of the country's most prominent national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Zion, set new visitation records in 2015 and are bracing for what could be an even busier new year.


The National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday in 2016 and has been urging Americans to rediscover the country's scenic wonders or find new parks to visit through marketing campaigns that include giving free passes to every fourth-grader and their families.

So the attendance records could be shot lived, with even bigger crowds expected next year.


Officials at Grand Canyon National Park want to change how the public accesses the area’s backcountry. They say increased visitation is stressing park resources and the canyon’s environment. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Ruth Tomlinson / Robert Harding Picture Library /Aurora Photos

The Grand Canyon wants to change the way backcountry areas are managed as more outdoor enthusiasts take to the park's open spaces, with proposals that would require hikers using the most popular inner-canyon trails to spend a few dollars on a permit.


Millions of people visit the Grand Canyon each year, taking in the sweeping views from developed areas where they can stroll along the rim, grab a bite to eat and hop on a shuttle bus to other outlooks. Far fewer people venture into the 1.1 million acres that make up the backcountry, including trails below the canyon rim.

Melissa Sevigny

Nuclear power has gained more attention as a clean energy source. The raw material needed to make that power is uranium; and the highest-grade uranium deposits in the nation are near the Grand Canyon. The federal government has halted new uranium mining in the region, but old mines can still reopen.

Blake McCord/Courtesy of the Grand Canyon Trust

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva plans to introduce a bill that would establish a Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. At a press conference yesterday, he was joined by tribal leaders who say it would protect cultural resources and outlaw uranium mining in the area. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.