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Carlsbad Caverns National Park has reported higher than average visitation for the 2017 Spring Break season.

During the first three weeks of March, the park hosted more than 42,000 visitors who enjoyed taking the self-guided walk into the caverns down the Natural Entrance, hiking the Chihuahuan Desert, joining a ranger on a cave adventure, and watching bats exit the cave in the evening. This is a 44-percent increase in visitation compared to the same period in 2016, when about 29,000 people visited the park.

“Over the past decade our spring break numbers have been good and steady, but this year has been incredible. Increased visitation is great for the park and also fantastic for supporting economics in the local community.” said Superintendent Doug Neighbor. “We expect high visitation numbers in April as well as spring breaks continue in New Mexico and Texas.”

Carlsbad Caverns reported an increase in visitation last year, the highest it has been in 15 years, with almost half a million visitors. The entire National Park Service experienced the same upswing in visitation when National Parks across America logged 331 million visitors compared to 307 million in 2015. That number is even more impressive when taking into consideration not all parks count their visitors; 382 of 417 do.

“Stunning,” Acting National Park Service Director Michael T. Reynolds said of the visits counted across the National Park System. “We expected more visitors in 2016 as the NPS celebrated its Centennial with special events and activities, but these numbers really show the depth of feeling people have for their national parks.”

The top ten most visited national parks in 2016 were:

• Great Smoky Mountains National Park – 11.3 million
• Grand Canyon National Park – 5.9 million
• Yosemite National Park – 5 million
• Rocky Mountain National Park – 4.5 million
• Zion National Park – 4.3 million
• Yellowstone National Park – 4.2 million
• Olympic National Park – 3.4 million
• Acadia National Park – 3.3 million
• Grand Teton National Park – 3.2 million
• Glacier National Park – 2.9 million