Tourist Tourism, Yellowstone National Park File

Tourists wander through Norris Geyser Basin on May 15, 2018, in Yellowstone.

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This October was Yellowstone National Park’s busiest on record, with visits more than doubling last October’s, continuing a surge in visitation following the park’s coronavirus-related closure.

Yellowstone recorded 360,034 recreation visits this October, up 110% from the visits recorded in October 2019. The number of visits reported last month exceeded the previous record in 2015 by 43%. That year, the park reported 252,013 recreation visits.

Overall visitation this year is still down 6% from the same period last year, largely due to COVID-19-related closures in March and April. However, since park entrances reopened in May and June, visitation has ramped up.

Following low visitation in May and June, July saw a slight uptick. The month was the park’s fifth busiest July on record.

The numbers only grew from there. Visitation surged in August. Yellowstone reporting the month was its second-busiest on record, falling just short of August, 2017, when a total solar eclipse drew a record 916,166 visitors.

This September was also the park’s busiest on record, surpassing the previous record set in September 2018 by more than 15%.

Park visitation decreases significantly in winter months, as winter restrictions limit travel. Last November, just over 15,600 visits were recorded.

All park roads except one are closed to vehicles between early November and late April. The road from the park’s north entrance at Gardiner through Mammoth Hot Springs to the northeast entrance near Cooke City is open.

Winter travel is permitted starting on Dec. 15, but restrictions apply. Guided snowmobile and snow coach trips and limited non-commercial trips via a snowmobile access program are allowed.

The park is urging the public to prepare for changing winter weather conditions. Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time, officials wrote.

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

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