Yellowstone Is Having Its Slowest Year in More Than a Decade
The park’s low visitor counts follow a series of flooding-caused closures.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Yellowstone National Park is poised to record its lowest visitation in at least a decade in 2022, with the year-to-date visitor count down by a third from last year’s record high, park officials say.
Last month, Yellowstone received 567,587 recreational visits, which was a 36 percent drop from that month in 2021—the most-visited September in the park’s 130-plus-year history. It was also an 18 percent drop from 2019, which was the last September before Covid hit. This year, the park hosted 3,014,569 recreational visitors from January through September, 32 percent lower than that time frame in 2021.
The low numbers come after months-long closures in the park earlier in the season. In June, Wyoming received historic levels of rainfall, seriously damaging critical park infrastructure and triggering floods, rockslides, and mudslides. On June 13, Yellowstone closed all entrances and evacuated all visitors from the park. Less than a week after the closures, NPS Director Chuck Sams and Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly announced $50 million of emergency funding to help the park recover from these floods.
The east, south and west entrances reopened days later on June 22 with restrictions, which the park lifted July 2. The northeast entrance, however, did not reopen until October 15, and the north gate remains closed. That section’s entrance road was largely washed away in the June flooding; park officials expect to reopen it on November 1.
This September was the fourth consecutive month of the year to receive a significant drop in visitation due to the rainfall-prompted closures and repairs. Now, according to the Yellowstone flood recovery website page, approximately 99 percent of paved roads and 99 percent of the park’s backcountry are currently open to the public.
The national park recommends that Yellowstone visitors stay informed about what’s open or closed before arriving this fall. You can stay up-to-date with current road conditions in the park by visiting this website, texting 82190 to 888-777 for road alerts and road status, or calling (307)344-2117 for a recorded message.