October Was A Record Breaking Month For Yellowstone
October proved to be another record-breaking month for Yellowstone, breaking the 4 million mark in visits for 2015. Yellowstone hosted 4,066,191 recreational visits in the first ten months of 2015, an increase of 16.72% over last year and 11.70% over the previous top record year in 2010. The park surpassed the previous October record set last year by 29.37%, with 252,013 recreational visits last month.
Each of the park’s five entrances showed an increase in vehicles for the month of October compared to 2014 levels, with the largest increases at the South, West, and North entrances. The park also saw a marked increase in the number of buses and bus passengers during the shoulder season months of April, May, and October. October had an increase of 56% in bus numbers and an increase of 46% in the number of passengers on the buses compared to October 2014 numbers.
The unseasonably warm October weather may have played a role in the large increase in October visitation numbers. In addition, the National Park Service’s “Find Your Park” public awareness campaign, marketing and tourism promotions by the states of Montana and Wyoming, and lower gas prices may have influenced the record number of visits to Yellowstone this year.
The increase in visitation to Yellowstone this year brought an increase in the demands on park staff, park facilities, and the resources. This fall, park management held listening sessions with park staff and neighboring communities to learn about the increased impacts from the higher visitation. Over the next few months, the park will focus on what changes can be made prior to next summer season, as well as in future years to improve the visitor experience while protecting park resources.