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The world’s first national park appears to be busier than ever.

Yellowstone National Park set another monthly visitation record in May, logging 483,159 visits for the month, according to a news release. That’s an 11% jump from May 2019, the last time the park was open for the full month of May.

Building off a record-setting April, the May count puts the park well ahead of other busy years in its year-to-date numbers. So far, it has recorded 658,513 visits — more than 60,000 ahead of the count at this time in 2016, which was the park’s busiest year on record with 4.25 million visits.

It’s not a surprise that 2021 has been busy. In 2020, the park was closed until mid-May, and not fully open until June 1. That reduced visitation numbers early in the year, but the crowds picked up through the summer and stayed big into the fall, with September and October posting new records for visitation.

All signs pointed to that continuing through this summer, said park spokesperson Linda Veress.

“We’d heard early on from various indicators that it was going to be a very busy year,” she said.

The boom isn’t limited to Yellowstone either. Glacier and Grand Teton have also posted high visitation numbers, and traffic at Montana’s state parks was up by 20% for the first quarter of this year.

In April, Yellowstone counted more than 67,000 visits. It was the first time the month had topped 60,000.

Yellowstone’s May total was about 36,000 visits — or 8% — higher than the next busiest May, which was in 2018.

A good chunk of this May’s traffic came over Memorial Day weekend. In all, more than 43,000 vehicles were counted coming through the gates. That was about a 50% increase from the count in 2019.

Visitation typically only grows through the summer months, dipping back down in the fall. July is often the busiest month, and in some years its visitor count has neared 1 million.

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Michael Wright is the Chronicle’s managing editor. He can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2638.

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