In 2005 we spent 3 months in Bryce Canyon National Park, volunteering on the visitor information desk and hiking the trails to answer questions. We learned a lot about park visitors that summer and fall. Many visitors to the national parks are international, coming from Europe and Asia. Many make a circle through Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Arches, Canyon Lands, Grand Canyon and Bryce, spending only 1 or 2 days in each park.
Often, American visitors during the summer wanted only to view Bryce from the rim, looking down at the rock formations. European visitors more often wanted to hike down into the canyon if they had the time. The character of American visitors changed after Labor Day. The young families were gone and the seniors were more interested in hiking to view Bryce. The seniors also seemed to take more time for their visit. Perhaps they had already seen the highlights and were now exploring in more depth.
This year we arrived at Yellowstone National Park on Labor Day and spent two full days exploring some parts of the park we hadn't spent much time in during our previous 2 visits. Tuesday we talked to these two visitors from Europe.
John asked them how far they had come to visit Yellowstone. When they said 4,000 miles, from Boston, we were totally amazed! We have often seen groups bicycling through these parks. They travel by car or bus and their bikes are carried in a van. Then they bike through the park. It was very cold in Yellowstone Monday and Tuesday. We commented on the fact fall was here. They said they had to hurry to the west coast because of the weather. They would then fly home to Denmark. The young man is from there, the young woman is German.
When I think about the fact Boston is at sea level and Yellowstone ranges from 7500 to 9000 feet higher, I am really impressed. And I'm very glad we spent Monday night in a hard-sided RV with 50 amp electric, not in the tent they had slept in.
It is so good to see increasing emphasis on physical fitness in this country, especially for young people. I sure don't know many Americans who could bike clear across this country. And who would have time to travel 5000 or so mile by bike?