jamin in jellystone

Cars backup in a long line to see wildlife during a recent visit to Yellowstone.

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This August was Yellowstone National Park’s busiest on record, officials announced Tuesday.

Officials logged just over 921,800 recreation visits to Yellowstone last month. The numbers exceeded the previous August record by a little less than 1%.

The park’s second-busiest August was in 2017, when a total solar eclipse drew droves of visitors to the park.

So far this year, park staff have recorded just under 3.59 million recreation visits to Yellowstone, officials wrote. That’s 40% more visits than were counted in 2020 by this time of the year and 15% more visits than were counted in 2019 by this time.

This summer’s record-breaking August came after a record-breaking July, the park’s busiest month of all time when recreation visits for the first time in a single month exceeded 1 million.

Following pandemic-related closures in spring 2020, visitation in Yellowstone gradually picked up, then rapidly increased.

After the park’s entrances opened, Yellowstone was initially quiet. But by the fall of 2020, visitation counts were setting new records. September and October were the park’s busiest on record.

That trend continued into 2021. So far this year, the months of May, June, July and August have each set new monthly visitation records.

Visitation this May was up 11% from May 2019. Visitation this June was up 16% from the previous record in June 2016.

Yellowstone is looking toward new transportation options to address the influx.

The park launched two driverless, electric shuttles in Canyon Village this summer for a pilot project to explore how the technology operates in a national park setting.

If the demonstration is successful, the park may consider incorporating the T.E.D.D.Y shuttles into a new transit system.

“As visitation continues increasing in Yellowstone, we are looking at a range of visitor management actions that focus on protecting resources, improving the visitor experience, and reducing congestion, noise and pollution,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly in a June news release.

“Shuttles will unquestionably play a key role in helping achieve these goals in many of the busiest areas of the park,” he said.

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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