After being cooped up for more than a year due to the pandemic, crowds swarmed Yellowstone National Park this Labor Day Weekend.
According to a press release from the National Park Service (NPS), Yellowstone witnessed a 21% increase in visitors for Labor Day Weekend this year compared to 2019. The NPS calculated vehicle entires to the park for Labor Day Weekend in 2019 (Aug. 30 – Sept. 2) and 2021 (Sept. 3-6). They chose not to compare to 2020 because COVID-19 definitely skewed the data. This vehicle entry data was collected from the park entrance stations’ point-of-sale system.
Per the press release, more visitors entered Yellowstone National Park on Friday this Labor Day Weekend compared to 2019. The first day of the four-day weekend showed a 25% increase this year, with almost 9,000 vehicles entering the park.
Saturday saw a 24% increase, just breaking 11,000 visitors. The south entrance to the park alone boasted a 119% increase, more than doubling the number of visitors for that entrance. Sunday dipped down to a 20% increase, though more than 12,300 people still showed up. And Monday, surprisingly, showed the smallest change from 2019 to 2021, at 17%. Perhaps people from out of town used Labor Day itself to travel back home and get ready for work the next day.
The NPS press release added some words of advice to people planning to go to Yellowstone National Park or any other this fall. Primarily, they caution people to plan ahead and not show up last minute. Expect to see crowds of people, increasing vehicle traffic and foot traffic at the park. Make sure you enjoy yourself, but do it responsibly, especially with so many people around. The NPS also recommends staying up to date about changes to park services and operations by downloading their app or checking their social media sites.
Several National Parks Experience Huge Overcrowding Issues
Yellowstone isn’t the only national park to see huge visitor output this summer. Other top national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Zion National Park, have also seen swarming crowds recently.
According to the NPS, 2019 was the third highest year of visitations ever, crossing the 327 million threshold. But last year, because of the pandemic, attendance dropped 30% to 237 million. Now, based on early reports, it looks like 2021 could smash that 2019 record.
Fox News reported that in July, Yellowstone broke the 1 million visitors in one month benchmark. This is the first time that’s happened at the park, and it’s also a 15% attendance increase from 2019. Some parks became so busy that they had to turn people away at the entrance.
“That visitation is concentrated in our most popular 12 to 15 destination national parks, places like Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, and Acadia and Shenandoah,” Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles, an NPS spokesperson, said. “But we do see congestion in parks across the country.”
The NPS’s advice? Try visiting lesser-known parks that will have better wait times.