Yellowstone has record May

    BRIEF

    Great Fountain Geyser, pictured here in July 2015 (Courtesy of Diane Renkin, Yellowstone National Park)

    Yellowstone this year had its busiest May on record, with more than 483,000 visits, the park said Friday.

    That’s an 11% increase from May of 2019 — the park isn’t comparing visiting statistics to the pandemic-hobbled 2020.  Throughout all of 2021, more than 658,500 people have come to Yellowstone, almost 100,000 more visitors then the park saw from January-May in 2019. The next busiest year was 2016, when the park saw around 594,000 visitors in the same period, a number that still pales in comparison to 2021’s record for those months.

    The park says that summer is its busiest season. But beyond that, these numbers track across the National Park System, which is expected to see a historically busy summer, as pent-up tourist demand from the pandemic erupts. Yellowstone also set an April attendance record, as did the neighboring Grand Teton National Park, which saw almost 88,000 visitors that month.

    At a meeting of a U.S. Senate subcommittee overseeing the National Park Service in May, lawmakers lauded the traffic but expressed concern over what an unprecedented tourist season would mean for park infrastructure, a significant maintenance backlog and a dearth of employee housing.