Yellowstone and Grand Teton Park Attendance Falls Below 2021 & 2019
Contrary to the implications of the article below, the primary cause of 2022’s falling Yellowstone attendance is not road closures. Although some roads were closed in 2022, many miles that had been closed for 3-years of reconstruction reopened. Total drivable miles inside the park were much the same over this period.
The primary cause of falling attendance is gasoline prices. The parks are a ‘budget’ vacation. When a tank of gasoline costs $100.00 or more, the working man can’t afford to go.
Construction crews work to improve Yellowstone National Park’s Northeast Entrance road on Aug. 15. The road was damaged by floodwaters, but Yellowstone is now allowing unrestricted visitor access between Tower Junction and Slough Creek.
Far fewer visitors traveled through Yellowstone National Park in August than a year earlier, the busiest August on record, and 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic upended typical travel patterns.
Grand Teton National Park statistics for August were not yet available. Public Affairs Officer Valerie Gohlke told the Jackson Hole Daily the park was working on finalizing them.
In a Wednesday press release, Yellowstone Public Affairs Officer Morgan Warthin said the park hosted 582,211 recreational visits in August, down 37% from August 2021 and 29% from August 2019.
The lower visitation comes after Yellowstone experienced historic flooding in early June that led officials to close the park and evacuate visitors. The east, south and west entrances through West Yellowstone, Montana, Jackson and Cody, Wyoming, respectively, reopened shortly after. But the north and northeast entrances through Gardiner and Cooke City, Montana, remained closed to visitor traffic for some time.
Near Gardiner, park officials have upgraded and opened the Old Gardiner Road, which connects Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone’s administrative headquarters, and runs parallel to the destroyed north entrance road. That road was wiped out in the floods. Now, the Old Gardiner Road allows park personnel and visitors traveling with commercial guides to access the park’s inner loop roads.
But a connection between Cooke City and the park’s inner loop roads has not yet been reestablished.
Park officials, however, say they are aiming to allow regular traffic through both entrances in October.
Yellowstone’s August visitation report comes after a similarly slow report in July, when America’s first national park recorded 596,562 recreational visits. That was a 45% decrease from July 2021, the busiest July on record, and a 36% decrease from July 2019.
Grand Teton National Park officials reported smaller declines for July.
Vehicle counts on Highway 89 near the Gros Ventre Junction were similar to 2019, with a 12% decrease at the Moran entry station and a 5% decrease at the Moose entry station compared with 2019.
Grand Teton, however, reported a 31% decrease in vehicles entering from Yellowstone compared with 2019.