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Yellowstone National Park Sees Record Visitation in June


If you went to Yellowstone National Park in June, you weren't alone. The park saw record visitation last month as more than 610,000 folks made their way to Yellowstone.

The hard number was 612,095. That’s up 2,489 visitors from June 2007, and marks only the second time in history that Yellowstone’s June visitation has topped the 600-thousand mark.

For the first six months of the year, the park recorded 947,647 visitors. While that’s down slightly from last year’s record of 978,235 visitors, this is the second-highest visitation level ever recorded for the first six months of the year. It remains well above the 889,234 visitors recorded for the first six months of 2006.

Yellowstone had a record 3,151,342 visitors in 2007. The old mark was set in 1992 at 3,144,405 visitors. The bulk of the park’s visitation occurs May through September.

Detailed visitor information figures are available online at this site.


Unfortunately, we don't have a demographic breakdown of the numbers. From my recent visit, there seems to be a lot of foreign visitors taking advantage of a weak dollar. One I talked to about the price of airlines said it was nothing because the dollar was so weak. I'm also seeing more people from Canada than I'm accustomed to seeing talking about their travels to the United States on their blogs. However, domestic visitation also seems to be strong. You have to recognize that the number of locals visiting are also rising - look at this; Gallatin County is one of the fastest growing places in Montana. The population of Bozeman alone is up almost 40% in this decade alone. The entire county is now up to 85,000 people - that seems to be the case outside of the park area in general. That might have some small but significant effect as well. At the very least, there are more places outside the park for people to stay - as a result.

One wonders, though, whether a decrease in the price of gas would have no effect or whether numbers would be that much higher - or are numbers at the carrying capacity of the lodging able to support it. I do know I had no problem finding camping last weekend in the Tetons - so perhaps it could grow higher.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

I talked to several locals during the month of June and almost universally they were talking about how "empty" the park was. Much less traffic than normal for June, they were saying. Personally, I only visited twice during June and my impression was that there was SLIGHTLY less traffic than normal. Certainly fewer RV's. This, added to the fact that much of the park was still buried under snow early in the month (and a fair amount of bad weather), makes these figures curious to say the least. I don't question or doubt them, but find them interesting. I too would like to see a breakdown of the numbers. If there are more people staying outside of the park, for example in a motel in Gardiner, rather than camping in the park; and are leaving and re-entering the park two or three times a day, are they being counted as two or three different visitors each day? Same for locals. If I live in Gardiner or West, and I go home for lunch and then return, is that two visits? Especially if the first time I entered was before there was a ranger at the gate, therefore only clicking the counter and not showing my pass? I would like to know if camping was up or down? I would like to see figures related to average stay, numbers of locals as opposed to out of area and foreign visitors. How many locals, who normally rarely visit Yellowstone, are making multiple day trips into the park as opposed to one long trip overseas or to another state (as they normally would). How were sales at the Park stores? If sales were down, that COULD indicate a larger number of repeat visitors (locals?). How did businesses in border communities fair? Lots of questions, the answers of which would tell us a lot more than the raw visitation numbers.

Good questions. I know when I give them my annual pass, they scan it each time - which seems to count as a visit. So, when I camped in the Tetons, they seemed to count my entries into Yellowstone twice (once at the West and once again at the South Entrance). In past years, I don't know how it was counted - when you'd show them the 7 day pass, did they register that more than once like they do my pass when they scan it?

I did notice fewer RVs but no shortage of cars - this, of course, at the very end of June when the weather was phenomenal. It was very crowded the two visits I made. However, like I said, in the Tetons, the campground at Colter Bay was never full even at night. If numbers are up, I can only think that lodging capacity outside the park has to have something to do with it, especially in West Yellowstone. If that's the case, then your questions are more pertinent.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

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