Yellowstone National Park gears up for 2024 with a surprising twist in visitor numbers. January witnessed a slight drop compared to last year, yet clinched the fourth-most visited spot in history. The action was at the North Gate in Gardiner, drawing winter enthusiasts. Snowmobile and snow coach tours spiced up the West, South, and East gates. Lodging got a boost with Mammoth reopening and hosting visitors, unlike the previous January. The backcountry held its own, with campers in 2024 just edging past last year.

Yellowstone National Park is starting the year with a dip in visitation, at least compared with the previous two years. In January of 2024, Yellowstone National Park saw a 6.5% decrease in visitation compared with January of 2023. Recreation visits numbered 42,740 for the first month of 2024, making it the fourth-most visited January on record. Only 2022, 2023, and 2001 saw higher visitation numbers to start the year.

Of the 42,740 recreation visitors to Yellowstone National Park in 2024, the overwhelming majority came in through the north gate. The North Gate at Gardiner saw 28,933. This number is the highest because this is the only entrance open to individual vehicles during the winter. The West, South, and East gates also saw some traffic, all of which were snowmobile and snow coach tours. West saw 10,281 visitors, the South saw 3,242 visitors, and the East Gate had 284. 

Lodging in the park increased when compared with 2023, thanks to the lodge at Mammoth open for guests in 2024. The flooding of 2022 damaged important water and sewage lines, forcing the historic lodge in Mammoth to remain closed until construction was completed for the summer of 2023. From 2024, the park hosted 8,279 visitors at the open lodges in Mammoth and at Old Faithful. In 2023, this number was just 4,517 for January. 

The backcountry of Yellowstone was as consistently busy in January of 2024 as it was in 2023. In January of 2024, the backcountry office in Yellowstone reported 53 backcountry campers. In 2023, this number was 52. To the 52 of you who backpacked and camped in the wilds of Yellowstone this January, awesome work.


Recreation Visitation: 42,740

North Gate Visitation: 28,933

West Gate Visitation: 10,281

South Gate Visitation: 3,242

East Gate Visitation: 284

Lodging: 8,279

Backcountry Camping: 53


The main takeaway for the slight drop in visitation to the start of 2024 is that poor snow conditions more than likely kept some visitors away. Other than that, this was still the fourth-most visited January in Yellowstone history. I do not expect this downward trend to last through the year, especially not at the rate of 6.5%. 

Coming off the heels of Yellowstone National Park’s second-highest visitation year in 2023, when 4,501,382 visitors came to the park, a non-record-setting January is perfectly welcome. February may also see a dip in visitation, at least compared with the last few years, but that is only me guessing based on how busy the park felt. Only time will tell what the coming months will bring. 

All stats referenced come from the NPS Stats website, found here.