National Park Service. “Monthly Public Use Report January 1988-August 2017.” Accessed September 13, 2017. https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/SSRSReports/Park%20Specific%20Reports/Monthly%20Public%20Use?Park=BLRI.
Today I chose to look through the Monthly Public Use Report that is published by the National Parks Service every month. The first report that they have available is from January of 1988 and the most recent is from August 2017. The report goes through the number of visitors, broken down by recreational and non-recreational visitors, in the calendar year as well as the fiscal year. It also further breaks the types of recreational visitors into those who stay on the campgrounds (and how they stay i.e. campers, tents) as well as hikers that are going through the trails off of the Parkway. Also interesting it is that they also specify the number of visitors on the Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina. North Carolina consistently has higher numbers.
The way I reviewed the document, I compared peak months (April, May, August, September, and October) from the years 1988, 1998, and April, May, and August of 2017. I landed on these months because they are late spring when everything is in full bloom and the beginning of fall which is peak leaf looker time. This year the numbers are lower than in previous decade, I would be interested to look at why. Overall I think this source will be useful for the big picture. If we are arguing that the Parkway has had a significant impact on the amount of people coming through Western North Carolina and that those people have impacted local economies then it’s important to see the numbers. Going through the reports year by year (instead of jumping in every decade) can also help us see trends and compare them to the weather that year or greater themes happening nationally. This source is raw data, but there is a lot to be learned from it. As I already mentioned, numbers are good for seeing trends and it will be interesting to see the data for September come in.