According to the National Park Service (NPS), visitation at the Little River Canyon National Preserve nearly doubled in 2016.
Park visitation was over 462,703 in 2016 compared to 248,137 visitors in 2015. The 86% jump in attendance occurred primarily because the NPS increased its efforts to more accurately count visits to the park.
The economic impact from Little River Canyon National Preserve on the local Northeast Alabama economy has been immense. Park Service economic studies show that visitors to Little River Canyon National Preserve spent over $14,208,600 in communities near the park. Park activities supported 237 jobs in the local area. Overall, tourism to the Preserve and Jacksonville State University’s (JSU) Canyon Center created $16,468,800 in economic benefits to the area as a whole in 2015. The 2016 numbers are sure to increase once the new visitation numbers are taken into account.
The NPS announced jump in 2016 attendance coincided last week with the launch of the ARC Canyon Center Economic Development Feasibility Study.
“The JSU and National Park Service partnership has been a great success. We’d like to think that the Canyon Center has served as an engine for responsible ecotourism and economic development,” said JSU’s Pete Conroy. “The ideas and plans we have for the future will only ensure more stewardship and greater opportunities.”