13″ x 49″ Hover for zoom

This map series breaks down 2016 National Park Service visitor data, with the addition of park sizes for context. For the camping metrics, I compared every park against the average of all parks that offered that specific type of access (tent, RV, backcountry). This doesn’t account for total number of available tent and RV campsites, however, which might be interesting to include in a future project. A park with five campsites will see less campers annually than a park with five hundred sites, regardless of demand.

I used abstract circles for park size since there is such a large disparity in area between the largest and smallest units (0.3 acres vs 2 million acres). Using true shape and area would have left most parks invisible at this scale. Perhaps unsurprising to many, the most time consuming part of this project was cleaning up the data. The visitor data was in one table while park area was in another. Names for each unit often didn’t match across the two tables because of abbreviations (Saint vs St, for example). Visitor data was also omitted from many of the smaller or remote parks, or is in some cases was combined across multiple adjacent units.

This was one of the first projects I made using ArcGIS Pro, so much of the process was just learning the software. In hindsight there are many things I would change if I tackled this again—too many to list. But I’d start with the legends, which feel incredibly cramped.

Aaron Koelker
Please contact me if you\'d like to use or feature my work, I\'d be happy to share it.