‘Transitions,’ ‘growing pains’ contribute to drop in visitors at Natchez National Park

Published 5:34 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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NATCHEZ – While attendance at national parks increased in 2023, visitors to the Natchez National Park declined, likely due to closures and ongoing construction.

The National Park Service on Thursday announced that 400 national parks reported a total of 325.5 million visits in 2023, an increase of 13 million or 4% over 2022.

At Natchez National Historical Park, visitation numbers dropped slightly from the 64,691 reported for 2022. to 61,179  for 2023. This decrease is attributable to closures at the William Johnson House and ongoing construction at the Natchez Visitor Center. The Melrose estate served as the primary staffed site for the park.

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Plans have now been completed for the necessary repairs to the exterior porches on the William Johnson House complex that allow access to the upstairs of all historic structures. Other improvements which will soon commence at the site include the installation of an interior elevator and the opening of new exhibit spaces. The first-floor spaces of the house are now open to the public for the first time since 2020.

Installation of a new air conditioning system at the Natchez Visitor Center should be completed in March 2024, and work will commence on renovations to the lobby area and public restrooms. A new film and new exhibits will follow.

“Our park has been undergoing a lot of transitions in recent years,” said Natchez National Historical Park Director Kathleen Bond. “I hope our visitors will be patient with us through our growing pains, and will visit the sites which remain open, as well as the outdoor green space park at Fort Rosalie. We will begin a formal planning process at the Forks of the Road slave market site this summer and are looking forward to a robust process of public engagement to gather community input.”

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 429 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.