America’s National Parks continue to see a rekindled love, despite the current administrations desire to restrict access and decrease their size. In 2017, Yellowstone National Park experienced the second busiest year on record, spurned on by great weather, incredible wildlife and the total eclipse. Last year, Yellowstone recorded 4,116,525 visits, which was a decrease from 2016. 2016 was a record year for visitation, seeing 4,257,177 visits to the park.

Since 2008, annual visitation to Yellowstone has increased by close to 40 percent. That means that the popular areas of the park, like Old Faithful, Canyon, Tower and Mammoth have seen crowds grow. This growth has caused park managers to consider many questions:

  • How can the park prepare for a future in which visitation continues to increase?
  • How does the increased visitation affect park resources and visitor experiences?
  • What do people expect when they come to Yellowstone?
  • How do people move through the park?

To begin answering these questions, the park commissioned two studies during the summer of 2016.

These studies mark the beginning of our efforts to understand visitation and develop strategies to meet the challenges it presents. In 2018 and 2019, we intend to gather more information in order to make informed decisions about visitation.

~Dan Wenk, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent

Yellowstone is a place known and loved by local, regional, national, and international visitors. In this era of increased visitation, park officials remain committed to preserving Yellowstone’s resources and the experience of people who come here. Continued high levels of visitation at Yellowstone remind visitors how important it is to plan your visit. While it is easy to complain about crowds, keep in mind that A) You are part of the crowd and B) If you want to avoid crowds, find new corners of the park to explore. People coming to parks is not a bad thing.

Despite this being a super busy year for Yellowstone, when we spent time there in the height of the summer months, we were able to find quite corners of solitude at the busiest of areas. Doing things like hiking at dinner time on popular trails, or catching Old Faithful erupt just before sunset gave us small crowds, even on the busiest of days.

If you haven’t experienced Yellowstone National Park, we highly encourage you to do so. We are currently finishing up a 52 Adventures in Yellowstone Book, and already have an ebook to help you with a Road Trip from Seattle to Yellowstone completed and ready for your eyes. Don’t stress about the crowds; Yellowstone is an amazing destination and will surely increase your wanderlust spirit and love of America’s Public Lands.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Sunset at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park
A bison, silhouetted at sunset in Yellowstone National Park’s Hayden Valley
Wandering Moose in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley
Yellowstone National Park’s Roosevelt Arch
A scene along Firehole Drive in Yellowstone National Park
Mud pots at Yellowstone