Our National Parks continue to be the it destination for U.S. travelers in 2021 with record attendance at both Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Recently reported in the Billings Gazette, both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park saw record-shattering attendance in April, a month in which both parks were still covered in a considerable amount of snow.

Pictured: West Entrance line Memorial Day weekend 2017. Photo: NPS / Jacob W. Frank

Yellowstone reports 67,000 visitors passed through the entrance — 34,000 through the North Entrance at Mammoth and 33,000 from the West Entrance in West Yellowstone. This number breaks the previously held record of 59,000 people in 2016.

After seeing the April number, Yellowstone park superintendent Cam Sholly told the Billings Gazette, “I predicted a record season, and I think we’re on track for that.” 

Keeping the record season in mind, the park has hired more seasonal employees, plus three of the seven campgrounds run by the National Park Service are now reservable. The five concessionaire-run campgrounds will continue to be reservation only as well. And if that isn’t enough, they’re also testing out driverless shuttle technology, a story we reported on a few weeks back.

“At some point, you have got to look at what the capacity of your staff is,” Sholly 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.” To back up Sholly’s statement, The National Park Service issued a release, reminding visitors that summer is Yellowstone’s most popular season. The release warns visitors to “expect long lines at entrance stations, extremely busy facilities and destinations, as well as delayed travel times due to heavy traffic and wildlife jams.” It also encouraged visitors to seek a less crowded experience by arriving early or staying late and to avoid main attractions such as Old Faithful, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone during peak hours.

Pictured: Grand Teton National Park

But if you thought 67,000 people in April was a large number, that’s nothing compared to the 87,700 visitors Yellowstones’ neighbor to the south received. Grand Teton’s April record, was a 48% increase from April 2019 and the highest seen in that park for that month.

Factors, including increased vaccination numbers, ease of traveling restrictions along with National Park Week falling April 17 and 25, most likely played a large role in the increased number of visitors. Numbers, we are sure to see throughout our public lands as 2021 progresses.

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