Yellowstone visitation higher in July compared to last year
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Visitation to Yellowstone National Park has increased substantially, park officials said.
Visitation rates were higher in July than they were in the same month last year. This comes after the park’s overall visits had been down 49% from last year through the end of June. The park’s visitation rates were down 32% in June compared to the same month last year.
The park hosted 955,645 people in July, up about 2% from July 2019.
The influx of visitors occurred despite the fact that campsites and hotels inside Yellowstone have drastically reduced their capacity.
Just over 1,000 campsites have been used inside Yellowstone so far this summer, compared to more than 57,000 last year. Park-operated campgrounds have seen 198,500 people this year compared to 380,900 last year. Concession lodging was down 84% from last year, with 72,700 this year and 465,000 in 2019. Backcountry camping in the national park was down by half.
Visitors have used surrounding national forest campgrounds or lodging in bordering gateway communities for shelter instead, The Billings Gazette reported.
Grand Teton National Park just to the south of Yellowstone also experienced a 3% increase in July visitors.
“We are seeing visitors from all 50 states,” said Wendy Swenson, marketing director for the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce, who added that most visitors are from Idaho, California and Utah.
Yellowstone was closed in full from March to May as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Its two Wyoming entrances reopened its doors on May 18. The park’s three Montana entrances followed suit on June 1.