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Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon Hurt By Surge In Visitors

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 1:48pm
Updated: Friday, September 4, 2020 - 10:16pm

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Oak Creek
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Oak Creek runs through Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona.

Labor Day Weekend is about to kick off, and lots of people will be hitting the road and heading to the great outdoors.

While rangers in some of our state’s most popular destinations like Oak Creek Canyon say they’re used to managing big crowds on holiday weekends like this, they say right now, every weekend looks like a holiday weekend.

"The level of visitor use across the Red Rock Ranger District has really exploded since COVID," says Aaron Rotert of the Coconino National Forest Red Rock Ranger District, which oversees Oak Creek Canyon just outside of Sedoa. "That isn't really just a local phenomenon, either. It's all across the country. Recreation on our public lands has been occurring at record levels."

This phenomenon shouldn’t be all that surprising. People want to get out of their homes, and with so much closed due to the pandemic, going to the great outdoors seems like the safest way to do it. Combine that with a record hot summer here in the Valley and you’ve got a recipe for crowds in the state’s most beloved getaways.

But that has some serious consequences for those beloved places, as well.

Rotert says Oak Creek Canyon is seeing some of the worst of it. The Show spoke with him to learn more about how the area has been affected.

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