U.S. national parks protect some of the nation’s most iconic places for the public to enjoy. But visitors are crowding the parks in such numbers that several popular sites, including Yellowstone and Yosemite, are requiring advance reservations.

Colorado State University historian Michael Childers sees the parks’ crowd woes as part of a pattern dating back to the 1920s, when Americans first took up long-distance travel en masse. In his view, many popular national parks need reservations systems to prevent tourists from destroying the places they’ve come to see.

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Jennifer Weeks

Senior Environment + Energy Editor

Traffic at the south entrance to Yellowstone National Park on Aug. 20, 2015. Neal Herbert, NPS/Flickr

Overcrowded US national parks need a reservation system

Michael Childers, Colorado State University

It's hard to preserve national parks "unimpaired," as US law directs, when they're overrun with tourists who stray off paths, strew trash and harass wildlife. A parks scholar calls for crowd control.


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