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Saguaro National Park Saw Big Increase In Visitors In 2016

The U.S. National Park Service celebrated its 100th year in 2016 and saw visitation increase at parks all over the country. That uptick was especially high at Saguaro National Park.

A total of 820,000 people paid a visit to Saguaro National Park last year, a 9 percent jump over 2015. Park Superintendent Leah McGinnis said attendance has been going up in recent years, but that 2016 was especially busy.

The celebration of the National Park Service’s centennial may have helped, as well as the Every Kid in a Park program, which offered a free one-year national parks pass to every fourth-grader in the country.

In 2016, Saguaro National Park unveiled its new mascot, Sunny the Saguaro. The smiley, ranger-hat-wearing cactus makes appearances at local events, trying to raise community awareness about the park.

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.