The Grand Canyon National Park is expecting to see six million visitors during the holiday weekend, and the National Park Service is working to find how to draw a more diverse crowd to see the sights.
A 2011 National Park Service reports shows the large majority of visitors to parks are white. Only one in 10 visitors are Hispanic, and a small seven percent are African American. It’s a concern that both are underrepresented at the parks compared to their populations in the country.
“We should be concerned because something is there keeping us from attending in the same numbers as the rest of the population,” says Xitlaly Reyes, ambassador for Latino Outdoors. “There is definitely a message that is not getting across that that is their park.”
The change doesn’t have to begin with inviting a diverse crowd to the parks. It can start with making sure there’s visibility among the staff and publications, says Vanessa Ceja-Cervantes, outreach coordinator for the Grand Canyon National Park. Reyes agrees, saying she wants to see more brown people, languages and cultures represented within the National Park Service.
Ceja-Cervantes says it’s important to hear from people within their own communities on what they want from the national parks. Not everyone will enjoy the outdoors in the same way, she says.
The entrance fee into national parks is currently $30, but the Interior Department says they will be raising it by $5 this summer. It may place extra pressure on families who are hesitant about visiting. It’s said that the extra cost will be used to help fix the parks.