Yellowstone Spring visitation up nearly 11 percent
by Yellowstone National Park
June 8, 2009
After four months of declining or near flat visitation, Yellowstone saw a dramatic increase in visitors in May.
Over 260,000 people visited Yellowstone in May, up over 20 percent from last year’s levels. For the first five months of the year, nearly 360,000 people came through the park gates, a nearly 11 percent increase over the same period in 2008. Visitation figures for the first five months of the year are also up compared to the five-year average of just over 340,000 visitors.
January: 2009: 24,770, 2008: 26,864, Change: -7.8 %
February: 2009: 28,355, 2008: 33,557, Change: -15.5 %
March: 2009: 17,317, 2008: 19,147, Change: -9.6 %
April: 2009: 24,831, 2008: 24,433, Change: +1.6 %
May: 2009: 261,763, 2008: 217,938, Change: + 20.1 %
Year-To-Date 2009: 357,036, 2008: 321,939, Change: + 10.9 %
Most of the park is inaccessible by automobile during the winter and early spring. May represents the first month most major park roads are open to wheeled visitor traffic and when visitor services begin to reopen for the busy summer season.
The park’s East Entrance saw the greatest increase in visitation, up nearly 21 percent in May compared to the previous year. The West Entrance remains the park’s busiest, with nearly 115,000 visitors passing through the gate in May, up nearly 17 percent from 2008. The South and North entrances also showed impressive increases compared to last year’s levels.
Nice spring weather like the park experienced in May is typically reflected by stronger visitation numbers. An analysis of past visitation trends also indicates park visitation typically rebounds as the country begins to pull out of an economic downturn.
The winter and spring seasons represent a small but important portion of the park’s annual visitation, which topped the 3 million mark the last two years. In comparison, as many people will visit the park during two weeks in July as typically enter during the entire first five months of the year.
Visiting the national parks remains a good value. A seven-day pass good for both Yellowstone and Grand Teton is just $25; a pass good for entrance to any national park for an entire year is just $80. Even better, the National Park Service is offering three fee-free weekends to encourage Americans to visit their national parks. The first is right around the corner: Father’s Day Weekend, June 20-21.
All communities near and on the way to Yellowstone are open all year, with local businesses offering a wide range of recreation opportunities.
Lots of information and help planning a visit to Yellowstone can be found on the park’s web site at http://www.nps.gov/yell.
Information and reservations for in-park campgrounds and lodging is available by contacting Xanterra Parks & Resorts at 866-GEYSERLAND or online at http://www.travelyellowstone.com.
Information on lodging, camping, services, and activities near the park inthe Montana communities of Gardiner, West Yellowstone, and Cooke City, is available by contacting their respective Chambers of Commerce or from Travel Montana at 800-847-4868 or http://visitmt.com/.
Information on visiting the Wyoming communities of Cody and Jackson is available from their Chambers of Commerce, or by contacting Wyoming Travel and Tourism at 800-225-5996 or http://www.wyomingtourism.org.