Yellowstone adjusts September 2021 visitation statistics; up by 9,383 visits (copy)

Yellowstone National Park visitation in October topped 316,000.

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Yellowstone National Park had its second busiest October ever this year, ending a streak of record-breaking months, according to a Wednesday announcement.

The park counted more than 316,000 visitors in October 2021, about 43,000 fewer than in 2020, the busiest October on record. The 2021 season has been Yellowstone’s busiest ever so far with about 4.79 million visits — about 1 million visitors more than recorded in 2020 and about 500,000 more than the parks previous record set in 2016, according to the announcement.

The park saw record months of visitation for the majority of 2021, seeing more visitors than ever in the months of May, June, July, August and September.

October 2020 holds the record for the most visitors in that month ever, months after entrances to the park closed due to restrictions related to the pandemic.

Visitation in October 2021 was down about 12% from the record set last year, but up 85% from October 2019 when the park experienced “several short-term, weather-related road closures,” park officials wrote in a news release.

The park premiered an automated shuttle program this year in an attempt to alleviate traffic around Canyon Village. It’s now studying whether technology can be used to support visitor access along the Midway Geyser Basin corridor.

More than $100 million was invested in park infrastructure projects in the past two years to “reduce traffic congestion and enhance visitor experiences,” according to the release.

The park also expects “substantial additional investments” in the next two years as part of the $6.3 billion Great American Outdoors Act, which was enacted in 2020.

Projects planned at Yellowstone in 2021 and 2022 include more than $275 million of investment, including a $71.2 million project to replace a steel bridge and nearby roads at Tower Junction and a $52.6 million project to wastewater treatment plants serving the Canyon and Grant developed areas, according to the National Park Service.

Most roads in the park closed on Saturday to prepare for the winter season, which begins in December. The exception is the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Cooke City, which stays open year-round.

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