Kind of like Old Faithful, you can depend on regular eruptions of tourists doing goofy things.

It seems like a lot of the same missteps, just different people doing them each year. This summer's examples include reports of trying to get that extra-close picture standing next to a buffalo, leaving a boardwalk across steaming hot pools, picking up a calf because it looked to be in distress only to have its mother reject it when reunited, and walking off-trail into thermal areas.

Yes, Yellowstone National Park is always blessed with tourist improprieties. But when you look at how many visitors the park gets, hey, maybe the stupid-to-respectful ratio is not all that bad!

The National Park Service just released the latest numbers on tourism visits in 2023, and it comes as no surprise that it has been a near-record year so far. Yellowstone hosted 846,389 recreation visits in August 2023. That is a 45% increase from August, 2022, (582,211 recreational visits). That year-over-year boost was aided by the park not dealing with any emergency closures this year.

So far in 2023, the park has hosted 3,313,244 recreation visits, up 36% from 2022 (2,437,607).


The list below shows the year-to-date trend for recreation visits over the last several years through August of each of the years:

2023 – 3,313,244

2022 – 2,437,607 (The park was closed June 13 through June 21. Three entrances opened June 22.)

2021 – 3,590,609

2020 – 2,556,528 (The park was closed May 1 through May 17. Two entrances opened May 18 and the remaining three opened June 1.)

2019 – 3,114,697

2018 – 3,136,241

If you are numbers folks, you can see more data on park visitation, including how they calculate these numbers, on the National Park Service Stats website.

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Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

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