Horseshoe Bend is Changing, & Tourism Overload in Our National Parks

March 16, 2018


It had been about three years since I’d last visited Horseshoe Bend, and this year there were signs of new development there, such as new parking lots being built, and a new road down to Horseshoe Bend, and what looked like a new shuttle stop. No doubt, the park service will be requiring passes pretty soon, whereas up to now it has been free to visit because the visitation was manageable.

It doesn’t surprise me that this is happening, the inundation of tourists is quite overwhelming (and not just here, but in ALL the National Parks). The last time I walked down to Horseshoe Bend there were a good number of people, but nothing like this, and about 80% of these visitors were Asian (some of who were carrying balloons, and I’m wondering if that is some kind of tradition?). I’m not complaining about Asians, don’t get me wrong, I’m just stating a fact, it seems that tourism from Asia has been promoted enormously in the past few years, and one of the main attractions of the tourist agenda is the Grand Circle, which is basically all the National Parks in Utah. Page, AZ, is the center hub of these attractions, so it quite literally gets visited by just about all the tourists at some point.

Oftentimes I find that I, as a white, English/American speaking person have been the minority in such areas. I frequently find myself surrounded by Asians, Germans, French, Italian, Swedes, and other European Nationalities, and can go for days and even weeks and only see a handful of white people, and they are usually the ones working behind the counter. When I’m in the middle of the Navajo Nation, I expect the majority to be Indians, but it’s not the case, I and they are often the minority when in any kind of public place in or near a National Park in Utah, at least in my experience when I travel.

I’m obviously sharing my own experiences and observations here, but some of my traveling friends have also noticed that this visitation is having an impact in ways that nobody apparently thought of, and that is how different cultures behave. Some behaviors they have may be acceptable in their country, but not here. For example, one friend of mine did a blog post on human waste (Nomads, aren’t shy about discussing this, because it’s just a thing we all have to deal with on a daily basis). He talked about how there were signs in one bathroom that clearly stated that the toilet seat is for sitting on, not standing on and that they must go IN the toilet, not outside of it, along with a picture of how to USE A TOILET! (You can see his post on my blog here: Disposing of Human Waste ~ Guest Post by Brent MacAloney). Now for the park service to actually make signs of this nature, it must have got really bad. If you had any idea how much red-tape the sign requesters have to go through in the National Park Service to get one approved (I’ve been told it takes about a year), then you would be astonished too!

Another aspect of this over-visitation is the invasion of what Americans call their personal space. In some cultures, there is no such thing as personal space, they are so crammed together they don’t have any concept of it. I’ve been recording video, and it’s been very obvious what I’m doing, but I’ve had groups from certain cultures actually gather inches from my camera, between my subject and me, and just stand there talking and laughing, completely destroying any chance I had of recording anything at all. They are totally oblivious, and they’ve stood inches from my open side door as well, while I’m sitting there enjoying a cup of tea and looking at the view. One more step and they would have knocked the drink out of my hands or been IN my van, and this happened while I was surrounded by vast areas of openness. Sometimes I wonder if visitors should be required to take a class teaching them what they should and shouldn’t do when they travel overseas (LOL). I know I’d want to learn such things if I were to visit their country and hopefully avoid such social goofs (and it should include how to drive in the US and where they CAN’T drive).

I know that tourism is good for a certain percentage of Americans, but my personal feelings are that our environment should be the priority in all aspects of life. It is so essential to life, that without it, humans and all life are doomed. We are well on our way to The Tipping Point and scientists believe it will come much sooner than they originally estimated (Yes, I believe in Science). If you haven’t heard of The Tipping Point or Hothouse Earth, here are three different articles for you to read from three different sources Live Science, CNN, and Business Insider.

Well, enough doom and gloom. If you are a traveler you have no doubt seen the changes in tourism, population and other negative aspects of human growth, but if you have just been sitting in your living room watching the same news channel year after year, in the same town or city for most of your life, you may be oblivious.

Travel opens the eyes to the world, and though there are many wonderful things to experience out here, it also brings to light the negatives. Travel is a bitter-sweet experience.

Until next time, bye for now,

OH, and if you’re using a phone to read this keep on scrolling down and look for the MORE TO EXPLORE link which will guide you to a huge array of categories and posts from the past that include How-To’s, Tips, Travel, Tales, Travel, Philosophy, Safety, Poetry and more.

Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature

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2 responses to “Horseshoe Bend is Changing, & Tourism Overload in Our National Parks

  1. This is a global problem, over population. The human species has practically destroyed this planet.
    The early white settlers from Europe destroyed
    98% of the Redwoods. Drove the Grizzly in Cali
    to extinction, wiped out the Buffolo and polluted
    the streams and rivers.
    The Asian tourist of 2018 is more environentally
    aware than the white settlers of years gone by.
    Education and curbing Population Growth is the Key
    The NPS needs to print pamplets in many languages
    explaining ‘Park Rules & Law’ and impose ‘Fines’
    to voileters. This money can be re-plowed back into
    the ‘Parks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jerimiah, I’m in agreement, and an excellent suggestion. I also think that individual businesses, such as Jeep rental businesses, tour buses etc. need to help out a bit and educate their customers more (such as inform their customers where they can and can’t go in a Jeep, give them a lesson first and have them sign a something stating that they vow to protect the environment).

      Liked by 1 person

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