Yellowstone visits

Visitation to Yellowstone National Park was up only slightly in July compared to last year's record-setting season.

BOB ZELLAR/Gazette Staff

Tourism in Yellowstone National Park increased only slightly over last year's record season.

Visitation for July, often the busiest month of the summer, increased by 1.5 percent over July 2015. The first seven months of 2016 are up 6.5 percent compared to the previous year.

Two of the park’s five entrances — the West and South entrances — showed an increase in vehicles for the month of July compared to July 2015. Three entrances reported a slight decrease in vehicles — the North, East and Northeast entrances.

Once again, the most striking increase in vehicle traffic was from buses. There were 13 percent more buses — 301 buses — this July compared with July 2015.

While many factors could be at play, park managers point to the National Park Service’s Centennial year, marketing and tourism promotions by the states of Montana and Wyoming, and lower gas prices as influences in the record number of visits to Yellowstone so far this year. For additional park visitation data and information on how these statistics are calculated, go to irma.nps.gov/Stats/Reports/Park.

As part of a park-wide social science effort, randomly selected visitors are being asked to take a survey pertaining to their travel through the park from Aug. 4-14. This survey is being conducted by the National Park Service in partnership with Resource Strategies Group Inc.

This data will be used to understand trends in the demographics, experiences, opinions, and preferences of visitors to Yellowstone. The survey results will help park managers to make decisions that reflect the experiences and needs of visitors and help the park better provide enjoyment, inspiration, and education to the visiting public, while still protecting park resources. The survey report will be available in spring of 2017.

More information is available here: www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/visitorusestudy.htm.

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