If Yellowstone National Park can be viewed as a bellwether, then those who fear the national parks are suffering from a decline in visitors will be relieved. The latest figures show that a visitation rebound in Yellowstone that started in May has now reached a record pace.
Not only has visitation through the first half of 2009 eclipsed the 1 million mark, but the nearly 644,000 folks who visited Yellowstone in June reflected an 8.5 percent increase from June 2008, and up from the 609,000 who visited in June 2007, which was the only other time June visitation edged above 600,000.
Overall, for the first six months of 2009 just more than 1 million people visited Yellowstone. That’s up 9.3 percent over 2008 levels, and again tops the previous record January-through-June total of 978,000 visitors set in 2007.
All park entrances reported visitation increases compared to 2008, with the Northeast, East, and North entrances showing the greatest percentage increase. The statistics also show more people are traveling in RVs and fewer are traveling by bus when compared to 2008. Early numbers also show some park campgrounds also filled more nights this June than in 2008. More camping and in-park lodging information will be available in a few days.
July is typically Yellowstone's peak visitation month, followed by August, June, September, and May. Overall visitation to Yellowstone National Park for 2008 was 3,066,579; down just 2.7 percent from the record 3,151,343 people who visited the park in 2007.