jamin in jellystone

Cars backup in a long line to see wildlife during a recent visit to Yellowstone.

For those who remember the madhouse that the 2017 solar eclipse brought to Yellowstone National Park and eastern Idaho, it may be surprising that August 2021 visitors easily trounced those numbers.

Yellowstone National Park announced that August set a new record with 921,844 recreation visits. That’s a 4.5% increase from August 2020 (881,829) and 12% above August 2019 (820,006).

“Previously, the busiest August on record was in 2017, the year of the solar eclipse (916,166 recreation visits),” the park said in a news release.

So far for 2021, the park has logged 3,590,904 recreation visits, that’s 40% more than the same period last year and 15% more than 2019. This year’s numbers come with fewer international visitors.

The numbers come after the park recently set a new record for Labor Day weekend visits. Visitors report sitting in mile-long lines of cars for close to an hour to get through “bear jams” or enter the park through the West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Mont. Sept. 5 was the busiest day in the park with 12,280 total vehicles through the park’s five entrances.

The list below shows the year-to-date trend for recreation visits over the last several years (through August):

2021 – 3,590,904

2020 – 2,556,528

2019 – 3,114,697

2018 – 3,136,241

2017 – 3,232,707

2016 – 3,269,024

  • The park was closed March 24 to May 18, 2020, due to COVID-19. Two entrances were open May 18-31 and the remaining three opened on June 1.

The park recommends anyone planning to visit Yellowstone this fall or next year, to plan ahead, expect crowds and behave responsibly. The park has a helpful website for planning a visit at nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit.

The park also offers free apps for smartphone users that offer live updates on the status of lodges, campgrounds, roads, and geyser predictions when in cell service.

Recommended for you