Yellowstone reservations picking up; don’t wait until the last minute

Three weeks ago reservations at Yellowstone National Park were wide open, as the National Park Service and concessionaire Xanterra were bracing themselves for a slow, slow summer.

That was three weeks ago.

Today Park officials report a flurry of reservations for the summer, as visitors commit to a summer vacation at America’s oldest national park. More consumer confidence and relatively low gas prices (despite a recent jump) are probably to thank for the uptick in interest.

For those seeking a larger picture, the increase in reservations may mean the national recession is over.

“What we’ve seen by studying recessions is our visitation drops a little at the onset of a recession, but frankly it starts to pick up as the recession is ending,” said Al Nash of the National Park Service. “In every case since the second World War, after a recession our visitation rebounds to equal or above what it was before we went into the recession.”

Indeed, a quick look at shows how busy the Park will be this summer. We checked a few key dates and found a lack of availability anywhere: for the weekend of July 17, for instance, the Park is completely booked. There are some rooms available the weekends of July 31 and Aug. 14, however.

So there’s still time to plan. But if history is any indication, the Park will see another good year on the attendance front.

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