Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Curtis Akin, NPS
WEST YELLOWSTONE, Montana -- If you thought Yellowstone looked more crowded than usual last year, you were correct! According to figures released today by the National Park Service, there were 4,097,710 “visits” (not necessarily visitors) to Yellowstone National Park, up 16.6% from 2014 - a new record.
“Last year’s visitation tested the capacity of Yellowstone National Park,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk. “We are looking at ways to reprioritize in order to protect resources, to provide additional ranger programs, and to keep facilities clean.” With so many visitors, long lines to enter the park (particularly at the West Entrance), traffic jams, increased competition for backcountry permits and other attractions surely affected visitor experience.
With Congress providing an increase in funding for national parks in 2016, some of the demands on Park staff and resources will be mitigated, but there is no reason to think 2016 will be any different (and if gas prices continue to slide there may be a new record set). The #FindYourPark campaign will undoubtedly also pique interest in one of our country’s crown jewels. “We will be asking park visitors to pack their patience for the upcoming summer season, as we expect more record breaking numbers in 2016, the National Park Service Centennial year,” said Superintendent Wenk.
TrailMob understands that Congress is also considering separate Centennial legislation which could provide additional temporary budget increases and also encourage philanthropy and volunteerism.