Yellowstone saw 40% more travelers, or 19,000 more people, than in April 2019, with 67,000 recreational visitors passing through the entrance — that's 34,000 through the North Entrance at Mammoth and 33,000 from the West Entrance in West Yellowstone. Previously, the record was 59,000 people in 2016.
The park's superintendent Cam Sholly had made that prediction back in March. "I predicted a record season, and I think we're on track for that," he told the paper after seeing the April numbers. To accommodate the demand, they've hired more seasonal employees and are getting them vaccinated, plus they've made more campgrounds available by reservation only. They're also testing out a shuttle with driverless technology.
But he's also aware that the record numbers can ultimately put a strain on resources. "At some point you have got to look at what the capacity of your staff is," he added. "It can't be a free for all….There's a lot we can do to ensure we focus on the resource areas with the highest visitation."
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The National Park Service (NPS) also issued a release yesterday, reminding visitors that the summer is Yellowstone National Park's "most popular season." "Expect long lines at entrance stations, extremely busy facilities and destinations, as well as delayed travel times due to heavy traffic and wildlife jams," the release said. "If you want a less crowded experience, arrive early or stay late and avoid main attractions such as Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Norris Geyser Basin during peak hours."
Just to the south — about seven miles away — Grand Teton also set April records, with more than 87,700 visitors, a 48% increase from April 2019. Both Yellowstone and Grand Teton's April 2021 visitation numbers were the highest ever for the month.
Further north in Montana's Glacier National Park, the park had more than 53,000 visitors this April, up almost 50% from 2019, but it didn't quite hit the all-time record of 55,000 from April 2016, the paper reported.
April is also a celebratory month for the NPS, since National Park Week fell between April 17 and 25.
The NPS reminds visitors that masks are still required for those who are not fully vaccinated, both indoors and in crowded outdoor settings, as well as for everyone on public transportation.