Yellowstone National Park Crushes One-Month Visitation Record
Will discussions about implementing more timed visits get more serious as national park visitation momentum continues at a furious pace?
To be determined. And while it may not be as easy to plan a vacation as it once was, in one month, the number of people visiting Yellowstone National Park was equivalent to the number of people who actually live in the state of Montana.
The National Parks Service released July's visitation data and it is staggering. NPS tells us that Yellowstone National Park hosted 1,080,767 recreation visits in July 2021, making it the most-visited month on record. It's a 13% increase from July 2020 (955,645 recreational visits) and a 15% increase from July 2019 (936,062 recreation visits). It's the first time visitation exceeded 1,000,000 million visits in a single month.
So far in 2021, the park has hosted 2,668,765 recreation visits, up 16% from 2019, the year that is being used for comparison instead of 2020 because of COVID-19. The park was closed March 24-May 18, 2020. Two entrances were open May 18-31 and the remaining three opened on June 1.
Increases to Yellowstone’s visitation have accelerated rapidly over the past 12 months and are on pace to set record numbers for 2021. To add to the congestion, Yellowstone’s road corridors and parking areas equate to less than 1,500 acres of the park’s 2.2 million acres. Most visitors stay within a half mile of these corridors, which include the most heavily congested areas: Old Faithful, Midway Geyser Basin, Norris, Canyon Rims and Lamar Valley. In 2019 the park piloted controlled visitor access at Norris.
If you're planning a vacation, there's not much advice to be added that you don't already know. Summer is Yellowstone’s busiest season. Millions of people visit the park in June, July and August. Even with the peak season winding down, if you plan to travel to Yellowstone, plan ahead, expect crowding, make whatever advance registrations you can and recreate responsibly.
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