Yellowstone National Park experienced their second-busiest May in park history, receiving over half a million visitors. During May 2024, 6,426 cars entered Yellowstone National Park on average each day, totaling roughly 16,853 people every 24 hours. The majority entered through West Yellowstone. In the following sections, I’ll break down the visitation numbers with historical context, as well as provide some insight into other things you may find interesting. 

To stay, I will share the press release Yellowstone National Park sent out regarding May visitation, which is short and to the point:

The park hosted 522,450 recreation visits in May 2024, up 15% from May 2023 (454,262 recreation visits). This May’s visitation showed a 10% increase from May 2021 (473,799 recreation visits).   

So far in 2024, the park has hosted 719,127 recreation visits, up 11% from 2023 (644,979), and up 11% from 2021 (649,153 recreation visits). 

The easiest takeaway from the blurb is that Yellowstone National Park experienced their busiest May in a long time. This is mostly true if we ignore 2022. 

In May of 2022, 523,680 people entered the park. The reason the NPS isn’t listing this in the press release is that many of the park’s visitation numbers were skewed by the 2022 floods. However, these floods occurred in June and should be counted. Including 2022, May 2024 is the second busiest May in the history of Yellowstone. It is also a good indicator of things to come.

Historically, June receives just under double that of May’s visitation numbers. In 2022, flooding occurred in June and restricted visitation, so we don’t quite know what would have been. Looking at trends, from previous years, June of 2024 could see over a million visitors for the first time in the history of the park. June of 2021 saw 928,845 visitors, nearly double that of May 2021.


According to the park’s visitation website, 198,227 cars entered the park in May 2024. This is an increase of 14.18% compared to the 2023 number of cars. In May 2022, 199,446 cars entered the park, while May 2021 saw 184,939 cars. 

If you are curious about how many people were in each car, on average, here you go: 

2.64 people per car in 2024

2.62 people per car in 2023

2.63 people per car in 2022

2.56 people per car in 2021

These numbers do not include tour buses. 

The following is the number of tour buses for May 2024:

In 2024 there were 558 tour buses

In 2023 there 379 tour buses

In 2022 there were 420 tour buses

In 2021 there were 30 tour buses


There are five entrance stations to Yellowstone National Park which you must pay to enter. There is one in the east, the northeast, the north, the west, and the south. By the first week of May, all entrances are open to the public, weather dependent. So where did everyone enter Yellowstone in May 2024?

This should come as no surprise, West Yellowstone saw the most visitors enter through its gate. Out of 522,450 visitors, 248,739 entered through West Yellowstone. That is just under 48% of all visitors. West Yellowstone is also closest to most lodging, which is extremely close to the park, which is why it is used so much. 

The second most-frequented entrance station in Yellowstone for May 2024 was the north gate at Gardiner. Gardiner saw 132,634 visitors or roughly 25%. The south gate was third, with 71,935 visitors or approximately 14%. Fourth was the east gate, which saw 43,117 visitors or around 8%, and fifth was the northeast gate with 26,024 visitors or just under 5%.


Cars entering at the west entrance: 95,316

Cars entering at the north entrance: 63,922

Cars entering at the south entrance: 26,226

Cars entering at the east entrance: 18,662

Cars entering at the northeast entrance: 12,415

2.61 people per car at the west entrance

2.07 people per car at the north entrance

2.74 people per car at the south entrance

2.31 people per car at the east entrance

2.10 people per car the the northeast entrance


In May 2024, the park had 59,152 overnight stays within the boundaries of Yellowstone. Out of that number, 16,183 of the stays were at campgrounds in the park. Madison Campground was the busiest, with 9,221 stays in May, followed by Fishing Bridge with 5,847 stays. Mammoth, which finally reopened, saw 854 stays. Bridge Bay had 261 stays. The other campgrounds in the park were not open during May 2024. 

There were also a total of 53 group campground stays, with 25 staying in Bridge Bay and 28 staying in Madison. The backcountry camping numbers for May 2024 were up 7.6% compared to 2023, with 708 total backcountry campers. 

The other 42,208 overnight stays in the park were at one of the lodges. Old Faithful’s lodges saw 22,822 stays, Lake Yellowstone had 7,575 stays, Mammoth Hotel had 7,353 stays, and Canyon had 4,458 stays.


If you are planning on visiting Yellowstone National Park during the summer of 2024, be prepared for potential record numbers of visitors. I would expect between 800,000 and over 1,000,000 visitors in June, July, August, and even September. It would not shock me to see visitation over 1,000,000 for two or three of the four months. 

If you are visiting this summer, there are a few easy ways to avoid the larger crowds at well-known destinations in the park. These are by no means the only ways to avoid crowds, but they are a good start. 

The first is to arrive early. Like really early. Plan on entering the park as close to sunrise as you can if you want to experience places like the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, and Old Faithful without a lot of people. 

The second is don’t stay in West Yellowstone. Facts are facts and West Yellowstone is consistently the most crowded entrance to the park. That being said, it is also the spot with most amenities, so you may not have an option. If you are staying there, know that summer lines to enter the park start before or around 8 am most days and can last until noon. 

Third, if you aren’t a morning person, enter the park in the early afternoon and stay through sunset. Most people will call it a day and leave the park around dinnertime. This is when you can go to all of those well-known spots and have an easier time finding parking and solace in nature. 

Fourth, pack food and drinks. If you have food and drinks already packed, you take away the need to stand in line and wait for your food at the areas of the park with the most amenities. This will automatically make your day feel less stressful and even allow you to have lunch at one of the park’s many scenic picnic areas. Just remember to not feed any wildlife, including birds, squirrels, or seasonal workers. 

Finally, if you are physically able, skip the parking areas at crowded spots and take a hike. You can access the famous spots of the park by parking farther away and hiking to them or hit a lesser-known trail and see what is found when you go beyond the boardwalks.


Speaking of going Beyond the Boardwalks, This is when I mention that I have a guidebook for hiking trails in and around Yellowstone, as well as offer guided hiking trips to some of the most wonderful scenic spots in the park. Yellowstone is more than just what is seen from the roads and well-known areas and I would love to show you what you are missing. 

Pick up a guidebook here. 

Find your perfect hiking tour here. 

All data used in this post was gathered at: