Visitors walk around the Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces in Yellowstone National Park on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.

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This June was Yellowstone National Park’s busiest on record, with recreation visits up 12% from the previous record in June 2016, officials announced on Thursday.

Park staff reported that there were nearly 939,000 recreation visits to Yellowstone in June 2021. It’s the first time the month has topped 900,000, and it’s a 64% jump from around 573,000 visits in June 2020.

It was a 20% increase from the approximately 782,000 visits in June 2019.

The National Park Service temporarily closed Yellowstone last May to visitors due to the pandemic. Entrances to the park gradually opened in the months following, as did visitation.

Then visitation began to spike. August was the park’s second-busiest on record, and September and October were the park’s busiest on record.

In 2021, Yellowstone has seen nearly 1.59 million recreation visits through the first half of the year — 17% more than in 2019 through the month of June, according to staff.

Early this June, the park rolled out two new automated shuttle in Canyon Village — the first in any national park. The low-speed, self-driving vehicles are part of a pilot project to test how the technology works in a national park setting.

Cam Sholly, superintendent of Yellowstone, said officials are trying to find ways to address the impacts of growing visitation on resources, staffing, infrastructure, visitor experiences and gateway towns. The pilot project is part of that effort.

“If you look at last year, even though we were closed, even though we were in the midst of a pandemic, we had the second-busiest August on record, we had the first-busiest September and October on record, and then this year we’ve already had the busiest April (on record),” Sholly said at the launch in June.

July is typically the park’s busiest month. In 2016, it came within 5,000 visits of topping 1 million for the month.

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Helena Dore can be reached at or at 582-2628.

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