The number of people visiting Yellowstone National Park in 2008, as well as the number of bison living in the Park, appeared to be greater than anticipated despite $4 per gallon gasoline for much of the summer and some crude efforts by National Park Service officials in the spring to cull the Yellowstone herd.
On the attendance front, it doesn’t appear that visitation to the Park was seriously impacted by high gas prices and a sluggish economic. At the end of July, the number of visitors to the Park was down less than 2 percent from 2007 — and that was a record year for Park attendance. Anecdotal evidence indicates that there wasn’t much of a dropoff in August and early September, with sellouts dotting the hotel registrations regularly. Still, when it comes to economics dampening things like visitation, the impact won’t be felt immediately: it will be felt during the winter and next spring, when folks are making plans to visit Yellowstone. And on that level, the whispers are that it could be slow going until the end of May 2009.
In better news, the bison population in the Park is higher than expected. According to a census conducted by personnel from several state and federal agencies, 3,000 bison live within the Park, down from a high of 4,900 in 2005. That’s between 700 and 900 more than expected.
If you’re in the area, remember Yellowstone National Park will offer free visitor admission on
Saturday, September 27, in honor of National Public Lands Day. All
Entrance fees, including commercial tour entrance fees and
transportation entrance fees, will be waived on this day. A seven-day
pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is normally $25 for
a private, non-commercial vehicle.
Finally, we have another video for you. “Yellowstone: Not Far Off the Beaten Path” is a look at those small geological wonders of the Park that sometimes get lost in the shuffle, as everyone dashes to large, loud attractions. A small version is below; for a larger, higher-def version, go to Vimeo.