Following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, state and national parks across the country saw major increases in visitation. Numbers rose as Americans found things to do where they could easily socially distance. Now, however, as pandemic restrictions continue to lessen, Yellowstone National Park continues to break visitation records well into the fall.
The famed national park began breaking visitation records back in July. At the time, summer thrived and the heat became unbearable across the states. Nevertheless, Yellowstone broke attendance records for the first time ever, achieving a visitation total of more than one million people.
Several months later, Yellowstone continues to break records. Just last month, the park saw a total attendance of 882,078 visitors. Yellowstone Insider reports the numbers just last month prove a 5% increase from September 2020. That further precedes a 27% increase from the same month in 2019.
However, the monthly statistics are only impressive until the outlet reports the record-breaking totals for the year 2021 alone. In total, Yellowstone National Park has seen an attendance of 4,472,982 visitors this year. Together, the numbers mark this September as the busiest on record. It also marks the first time the park hosted more than 4 million visitors in a year to date.
Further, while the numbers definitely bring national recognition to Yellowstone, it also brings up the issue of overcrowding. The outlet claims the increased numbers contribute to the ongoing discussion initiated at the start of COVID. That is, how will national parks manage so many visitors in regions set aside specifically as a national park?
Yellowstone National Park Battles Overcrowding & Congestion
The record-breaking attendance numbers definitely draw attention to the beauty and significance of our country’s national parks, Yellowstone specifically. However, in drawing that attention, Yellowstone staff have now been faced with the issue of overcrowding and congestion.
Yellowstone Insider reports the national park covers a sprawling 2.2 million acres, covering an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined. However, it further reports that most visitors only stray around half of a mile from the 1,500 acres of roads, parking areas, and facilities. This leads to major congestion and crowding, especially in areas surrounding Old Faithful and the Lamar Valley, among other popular destinations.
Of the issue, Superintendent Cam Sholly said, “We will continue working with our teams and partners to develop and implement appropriate short- and long-term actions for managing increasing visitation across the park.”
Additionally, Yellowstone officials continue to work with colleagues from Grand Teton National Park, where visitation is also soaring. The news outlet claims that potential solutions include a focus on shuttle systems, however, these plans remain in the studying phase only.
Nevertheless, park authorities plan to work persistently as predictions claim visitation at the national park will only increase in coming years.