By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Continuing towards what officials are predicting will be a record year for visitor numbers, Yellowstone National Park saw a 50% increase in visitors over Memorial Day weekend this year compared to 2019.
From May 28 to May 31, the park saw 43,416 vehicles come through. Visitation on all four days individually increased over the same time period in 2019, but the best day was May 28, with an 80% increase compared to two years before.
The most vehicles went through the north, south and west gates.
In 2019, the park saw 28,890 vehicles over Memorial Day weekend.
Figures from 2019 are the most recent available, as not all of the park’s gates were open during Memorial Day weekend of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Visits to Yellowstone since it reopened to the public last summer have regularly been exceeding averages, with the park reporting multiple times last year that it had some of its best months on record.
According to Rick Hoeninghausen with Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which operates the lodging and restaurant properties in Yellowstone, Americans are going to be flocking to the park this summer.
“Domestic demand has increased because of circumstances and from where I sit, demand for trips to Yellowstone is as high as ever,” he previously told Cowboy State Daily. “I think it’s safe to say, (American travelers have) offset any international demand that’s not there now.”
Justin Walters of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce said lodging properties in the area are already booked for the entire summer. And he added that a shortage of rental cars has visitors driving all the way to Salt Lake City to meet their transportation needs.
Last year was a record-breaker for the entire state in terms of visitation, with parking lots overflowing and campsites booked solid as people sought respite from strict lockdowns in other states.
Gary Schoene, public information office manager for Wyoming State Parks, said park officials don’t know if this year will be quite as busy, but officials are expecting plenty of visitors.