Increased Trail Congestion Largely Due to Locals, Not Visitors

"In 2020, permanent trail counters were installed and the data collected shows that use by residents has increased while visitation from nonlocals has decreased, according to Matt Wagoner, Basin Rec trails and open space manager." -Toria Barnhart (Park Record News)

Barnhart, T. (2022, February 19). New data indicates trail congestion caused by locals, not visitors. Park Record. Retrieved From

Outdoor recreation and trail usage has exploded in recent years and locals have been quick to point their finger at visitors for overcrowding. New data out of the Salt Lake Valley area suggests that increased congestion on trails and at trailheads is largely due to locals, not out-of-towners. Using trail counter devices and cell phone data, researchers were able to determine that 40% of visitors are made up of locals when compared to 38% regional users and only 22% visitors to the area. This deeply contrasts to popular belief and mountain communities may have to start looking inward for solutions to overcrowding. Here in Grand County, the narrative has looked very similar with trailheads full on weekends and a higher density of people on the trails. This may be due to more people moving to the mountains during the covid pandemic era or just more locals taking advantage of their surroundings. Either way, solutions have to come to the table in order to preserve and conserve our public lands. Locally, trailhead expansion projects, sustainable reroutes, education, and suggesting less populated trails have helped resolve the issue of overcrowding, but more needs to be done in order to preserve our public lands for future generations.