More than 2.5 million people visited Joshua Tree National Park last year, an increase of more than 500,000 from 2015, park officials said.
“While we are delighted so many people are enjoying the park and the unique landscape it has to offer, we are challenged by ‘being loved to death,’” Superintendent David Smith said in a news release. “The desert is a fragile eco-system and many visitors don’t realize how easy it is to destroy vegetation as well as seriously impact the terrain itself.”
While park officials anticipate a busy spring break period, they are encouraging people to visit lesser frequented parks such as Mojave National Preserve or regional Bureau of Land Management areas. Officials also suggested visitors come early in the day and consider mid-week when possible, to avoid crowds
To help with the crowds, the park is planning future projects including additional entrance facilities, a new visitor center and a shuttle service in cooperation with the Morongo Basin Transit Authority. Park officials are also considering a “campsite by reservation only” program to help ease camping capacity issues.
“This past year of record visitation has taught us that people really love Joshua Tree,” Smith said. “Our job is to give them the opportunity to love their park without killing it.”