Yellowstone National Park visitation was down again in July
The park experienced historic flooding in June, and two park entrances remain closed
This is an aerial photo from a helicopter of damage to the north entrance road, between Gardiner, Montana, and Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, due to the June flooding. (Doug Kraus/National Park Service)
Visitation at Yellowstone National Park is down 30% so far this year following historic flooding that left damage and park closures in its wake.
Park officials counted 596,562 recreation visits in July, which is down 45% from a record 1,080,767 visits that officials counted in July 2021, the busiest July in the park’s 150-year history, according to a new release issued by Yellowstone National Park last week.
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This July’s visitation numbers were also down 36% from the 936,062 recreation visits recorded in July 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic, which also led to park closures in 2020.
For the first seven months of 2022, there were 1,864,771 recreation visits, which is down 30% compared to the same time period through the first seven months of 2021.
Public visitation was also down in June, the Idaho Capital Sun previously reported.
A decrease in visitation from record 2021 levels was expected due to the damage, closures and disruptions created by flooding. On June 13, officials closed all entrances to Yellowstone National Park due to historic flooding. Staff worked to evacuate all visitors from the park over the next 24 hours, and all Yellowstone entrances remained closed through June 21, park officials said.
On June 22, officials reopened the West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Montana, the South Entrance near Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the East Entrance at Cody, Wyoming, on a limited basis. On July 2 all restrictions at those three Yellowstone entrances were lifted. But two entrances to Yellowstone remained closed to vehicles at this point. The North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, and the Northeast Entrance near Cooke City, Montana, are closed to vehicles but are open to pedestrians on foot and to bicycle traffic.
Public vehicle travel in Yellowstone is also restricted above Mammoth Hot Springs and east of Tower-Roosevelt Junction.
“As the park recovers from the June flood, it’s critical that visitors traveling to the park in the coming weeks stay informed about what’s open and closed,” Yellowstone National Park officials said in a news release issued last week.
Yellowstone officials regularly post updates about closures and access on the park’s website.
Even with two of the park’s entrances closed, Yellowstone is open to the public and officials say about 93% of paved roads and 94% of Yellowstone’s backcountry is open and accessible to the public.
With visitation down, this summer might be a good time to visit and avoid the crowds or take a backpacking trip deep into Yellowstone’s backcountry, which is truly one of the last wild places in the American West.
Yellowstone National Park officials working to reopen two remaining entrances
June’s historic floods damaged and washed out roads, set off rock and mudslides, downed power lines and damaged water systems and other aspects of the park’s infrastructure, Yellowstone officials have said.
“We realize there is much challenging work ahead, and we will do everything we can to support the park, partners, concessioners and gateway communities on the road to recovery,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said in a written statement issued in June in the aftermath of the flood.
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Park officials are continuing to work on temporary repairs necessary to open the North Entrance and Northeast Entrance to vehicle traffic.
“We are working pretty hard to reconnect the roads so that we could have access for regular visitor traffic by Oct. 15,” Yellowstone National Park spokeswoman Linda Veress said in an Aug. 9 interview.
Park officials have also said long term reconstruction will be a multi-year project. Officials are analyzing long range alternatives to permanent reconstruction of the primary road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Gardiner, Montana.
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