Grand Canyon National Park selfie

Visitors take a selfie at Grand Canyon National Park in this file photo, taken in 2016 which was the National Park Service's centennial year.

Sophia Kunthara,Cronkite News

It took Grand Canyon National Park 23 years to go from 4 million visitors a year to 5 million.

But only one more year to hit 6 million. 

The park announced Monday that it had received its 6 millionth visitor of 2016, an honor that was bestowed on the Johnson family from Las Vegas. It was the family's first time visiting Grand Canyon.

This year's record-breaking visitation numbers represent a 9 percent increase over the 5,520,736 visitors the park saw in all of 2015.

Officials attributed the increased traffic to this year being the National Park Service’s Centennial and the marketing and celebrations that went along with it.

Last year was a major milestone as well when the park saw its annual visitation exceed 5 million for the first time. In just two years, visitation has jumped 27 percent.

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Emery Cowan writes about science, health and the environment for the Arizona Daily Sun, covering everything from forest restoration to endangered species recovery efforts.

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