If you thought the trails at Grand Teton National Park felt more crowded than usual, you’re not wrong. Between this year and last, numbers at the Wyoming national park have been some of the highest that rangers have ever seen. This likely means that Grand Teton will be expecting an equally busy summer, and the park is already preparing future hikers for the influx.
As we know, 2021 was a booming year for national parks coast to coast. Thanks to the pandemic, cabin fever had folks looking for an escape from the walls of their home. Naturally, they chose to lace up their hiking boots and take to the trails for some socially-distanced adventures.
Here’s a breakdown of the national park’s visitation in April over the past few years:
- 2022— 67,541
- 2021— 87,739
- 2020— Park was closed due to COVID-19 pandemic
- 2019— 59,105
- 2018— 60,541
- 2017— 58,403
“Last year, Grand Teton hosted 3,885,230 recreation visits, the highest number of recreation visits for one year in the park’s history,” the park reported. “Previously, 2018 had the record for the most recreation visits in a year with 3,491,151. Recreation visits in 2021 exceed the 2018 record by 11% and surpassed the 2018 record in September 2021. Of the top ten national parks for recreation visits, Grand Teton National Park was the seventh highest.”
The park is also reviewing last summer’s studies that help officials better understand the visitation trends of Grand Teton National Park.
According to the park, “Studies include visitor-use and experience studies at Colter Bay, Taggart and Lupine Meadows trailheads, which surveyed visitors in these areas to gain a better understanding of visitor demographics, visitor expectations, and more. Additionally, a parkwide visitor mobility study was conducted last summer to identify common visitor travel patterns and flow.”
Grand Teton Gives Visitors Tips for Navigating the Busy Season
While the increase in visitors certainly brings in more funds for the National Park Service to complete important projects, for us hikers, that means battling others for parking spaces at the trailhead and foot space on the trail.
Thankfully, though, park officials are well aware of what’s to come for their outdoor enthusiasts, so they put together a few tips for navigating the crowds.
Here are a few:
- Make reservations and plan around closures. Grand Teton requires reservations for its campgrounds, which helps you secure your place at the park. However, it’s helpful to go one step further with your planning and avoid visiting while restoration or construction is happening.
- Plan a sunrise or sunset hike. The busiest parts of the day for the national park are between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Plan to be on the trails either before or after these high tides in crowds for a quieter journey through the picturesque park.
- Download the National Park Service app. Before you pack your bags, be sure to have the NPS app ready at your side. That way, you’ll know if there are any last-minute closures or restrictions that might change your itinerary.