Yellowstone Sets New Visitation Record

Previous record was 3.6 million in 2010
Yellowstone National Park

A bison roams Yellowstone National Park (Dino Trnjanin/Flickr)

More than 3.8 million people have visited Yellowstone National Park this year through the end of September, according to the National Park Service.

The previous record was 3.6 million in 2010, and this new visitation record has come with three months still left in the year. The park will likely reach four million visitors by the end of the year.

Amy Bartlett, Yellowstone spokeswoman, says the increased visitation has been a result of the “Find Your Park” campaign, lower gas prices and the National Park Service centennial, which is coming up next year.

“We’ve definitely been able to tell this summer has been busier,” Bartlett told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

But this record is coming with increased consequences. More international and urban tourists are visiting to Yellowstone, creating new challenges for visitor safety across the 2.2-million-acre park.

This year alone, five tourists were injured by bison—some by getting too close to the animals while attempting to take photos. In August, a man was killed by a grizzly while hiking off-trail alone.

This past summer, traffic in the park was so heavy at times that parking lots at major attractions like hotels and geysers were filled by mid-day, disrupting vehicle traffic.

Increased visitation has also caused a strain on park resources, which means larger entrance fees.

Dan Wenk, Yellowstone superintendent, says he is planning ways to ease some of this peak-season congestion.