Flushed by Flood, Yellowstone Park Patronage Plunges Drastically in July
It was expected to be another record-breaking year, fueled by the additional publicity of its 150th anniversary.
But commemorative milestones don't have a say in what nature might throw at them. And while numbers are still pretty impressive, they are exceedingly modest by the park's standards and expectations, especially considering the massive growth seen over the past couple of seasons.
The National Parks Service has released July tourism numbers for America's oldest national park, Yellowstone, and the devastating effect June's historic flooding and subsequent brief closures had on visitation.
Yellowstone National Park hosted 596,562 recreation visits in July 2022. That's a 45% decrease from July 2021. Last year's July number, 1,080,767 recreational visits, is the most-visited July on record. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism numbers are not taken into account for 2020. But even July 2019's number, 936,062, is substantially higher than what the park saw this year.
Yes, the undeniable residual effects of June. All entrances to the park closed on June 13 as the Yellowstone River raged way over its banks. Yellowstone Park was evacuated, and while the state did an admirable job of limited reopening over the next 9 days, and lifted further entry restrictions by July 2, the damage to vacation plans and the uncertainty about what still might happen during July left its indelible mark. No doubt the small communities in the area that rely so heavily on those summer tourism dollars really felt the strain.
NPS provides a tally of year-over-year tourism visits. So far in 2022, Yellowstone has seen 1,864,771 recreation visits, down from 2021's 2,668,765 through the end of July. In 2019, the visitation number for the same time period was 2,294,691.
The optimistic guess here is that while tourism numbers won't significantly recover overall for the year, it's pretty likely a treasure like Yellowstone National Park will be flooded (in a good way) with tourists again come 2023. And if 2022 is still in your plans, you are encouraged to stay current on the status of the park's roads and popular destinations from the National Park Service here.
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