Yellowstone National Park continues to break visitation records.
Yellowstone releases final numbers on busiest year ever
By Michael Wright Chronicle Staff Writer Jan 21, 2022
With the December numbers finally tallied, Yellowstone National Park has a final visitation number for its busiest year on record: 4,860,537.The final number shows a wide gulf between 2021 and the next busiest year. The total count for 2021 is more than 600,000 visits higher than 2016, which had a little more than 4.25 million visits.At least nine separate months topped their previous highs in 2021, according to park records — March, April, May, June, July, August, September, November and December. July was the busiest month ever, with more than 1 million visits recorded.
The counts don’t correspond to individual people. They’re an estimate based on the number of vehicles passing through the park’s five entrances. In a press release announcing the numbers Friday, park officials offered a few caveats. The release said officials saw an increase in the number of cars coming in multiple times, which the park attributes to a 20% decrease in in overnight stays in the park. Some campsites and hotel rooms were closed in 2021 because of construction projects and COVID-19.
The release also said that other stats the park tracks — trail counters, trash tonnage, water usage and public safety calls — showed numbers similar to 2019, when just over 4 million visits were counted.
Officials are looking at improved software that can do a better job of differentiating between new visitors and repeat visitors.None of those caveats, however, erase the fact that the world’s first national park is more popular than ever, and officials are working on a number of ways to deal with the crowds.
An automated shuttle was tested this summer at Canyon Village, a busy and photogenic spot in the central part of the park. The shuttle system moved over 10,000 people last summer, the release said, and officials are studying the viability of a shuttle system for the Midway Geyser Basin corridor.
Officials are also looking at data from visitor surveys and transportation studies and working with Grand Teton National Park on solutions for visitation.And about $100 million has been spent on projects over the past two years to improve infrastructure, reduce traffic congestion and enhance visitor experiences. More investment is coming in 2022 and 2023 with money from the Great American Outdoors Act, the release said.