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October visitation decreases in Yellowstone

Carie Birkmeier



2016 still sets record


October Yellowstone National Park visitation decreased by nearly 4 percent from October 2015. However, the first 10 months of 2016 are up 3.6 percent from the previous year. Compared to the first 10 months of 2014, the park experienced a 21 percent increase—or more than 700,00 additional visits—this year.

Three of the park’s five entrances—the North, South, and East entrances—showed a decrease in recreational visits for the month of October compared to the same month last year. The decrease at the East Entrance was likely a result of several temporary closures due to weather between Oct. 3 and Oct 20.

For the sixth month in a row, the most striking increase in vehicle traffic was with buses. A total of 942 buses were in the park this October compared to 826 buses in October 2015—a 14 percent increase from 2015.
While many factors could be at play, park managers point to the National Park Service’s Centennial year, marketing and tourism promotions by the states of Montana and Wyoming, and lower gas prices as influences in the record number of visits to Yellowstone so far this year.

To the north, Glacier National Park broke its annual visitation record in September. The previous record of 2.3 million visitors was set in 2015, and the park estimates 2.79 million people will pass through entrance gates this year.

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