HomeOutdoorsYellowstone National Park Set Major Attendance Record This Summer for First Time Ever

Yellowstone National Park Set Major Attendance Record This Summer for First Time Ever

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Over a million people visited Yellowstone National Park in July, breaking attendance records for the first time ever.

According to the McClatchy News Service, Yellowstone officials said 1,080,767 people visited the park in July. The number broke records for the most-visited July, and the first time visitation topped 1 million.

Notably, there were more visitors this July than in any of the past five Julys. The increased visitor numbers could present some problems.

Superintendent Cam Sholly said officials were working on a balance between protecting the park and improving the visitor experience in light of the numbers.

“Increases to Yellowstone’s visitation have accelerated rapidly over the past 12 months, and we continue to be on pace to set record numbers for 2021,” Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a news release. “We are actively developing defensible short- and long-term solutions.”

Park officials are also at work to determine the potential impacts high visitation has on staffing, infrastructure, and the park’s 13 nearby towns.

While numbers were down in 2020 due to the pandemic, parks have exploded with visitors this year.

Long lines, no parking, and overcrowding are some of the complaints this year. And these issues came before the summer started.

In fact, the Department of the Interior has posted a list of alternative parks visitors can go to if they think Yellowstone and the popular ones are too busy.

But, if you’re going to Yellowstone no matter what, National Park Service officials say plan ahead, be patient, and know how to be flexible.

First, buy a national parks pass online to save time instead of waiting in line for park tickets. Second, check for road closures and other changes before you get to the park. Finally, get your lodging plans done ahead of time. Park officials say reservations fill up fast, and camping is limited to certain areas. Finding a trip planner like National Park Trip can be helpful.

The flexibility should come in your arrival time. Park officials say folks should know when to avoid traffic and to go during off-peak hours. Yellowstone’s popular places are Old Faithful, Midway Geyser Basin, Norris, Canyon rims, and Lamar Valley. When you arrive at the park, find out when those places are busiest.

Top park attraction Old Faithful erupts close to 20 times a day. Yellowstone Park Trips recommends visiting the site before noon and after 6 p.m. Bus tours and visitors are likely to jam up the area between those times. 

For example, one rental site recommends your Yellowstone visit be in April, September, or October to avoid travel groups and families with kids out of school.