Yellowstone sets visitation record in September

·2 min read

Yellowstone National Park had its busiest month on record with 882,078 recreational visits in September, the National Park Service (NPS) said this week.

The park also set its year-to-date record with 4.47 million visits so far through September.

The park had 3.8 million total visitors in 2020, but was closed nearly two months because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those visitors spent an estimated $444 million in the park’s “gateway” communities and accounted for $560 million in economic output, the federal agency’s annual spending report says.

The number of visitors through September this year already exceeds the park’s previous annual record of 4.25 million visits in 2016, according to NPS data.

"Never in Yellowstone's history have we seen such substantial visitation increases in such a short amount of time," Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. "We will continue working with our teams and partners to develop and implement appropriate short- and long-term actions for managing increasing visitation across the park.”

Sholly also thanked her park staff, noting “the continued workforce challenges presented by COVID-19."

Yellowstone welcomed 3.39 million visitors by this time last year, and 3.8 million visitors by this time in 2019.

NPS said more than $100 million has been spent over the last couple years in the park “to improve transportation infrastructure, reduce traffic congestion and enhance visitor experiences,” noting that projects will continue following additional funding through the Great American Outdoors Act.

The increase in visitation to national parks means more wear on park infrastructure, according to the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), a free-market think tank based in Bozeman, Mont.

“Your tax dollars do contribute to park budgets, but only about $20 per taxpayer per year,’” PERC said in a recent social media post. “And those tax dollars are spread across 423 national park units. Put into perspective, we individually don’t contribute very much.”

“Modest fee increases can generate millions more in revenue, adding much-needed funding,” which stays in the park, according to PERC.

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Original Author: Derek Draplin | The Center Square

Original Location: Yellowstone sets visitation record in September

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