Yellowstone National Park South Entrance, Yellowstone visitation

Yellowstone Visitation Hits Nearly 4.1 Million in 2015

The final Yellowstone visitation count for 2015 is in, and it cements the past year as the busiest one in Park history.

4,097,210 visitors came to Yellowstone National Park in 2015, a 16.6 percent increase over 2014, which saw 3,513,484 visitors. We previously reported Yellowstone visitation surpassed four million back in November, after an astoundingly busy October. The full numbers are in the table below.

Month Recreational Visits 2015 Recreational Visits 2014
January 28,091 26,778 +4.9%
February 34,343 28,233 +21.64%
March 22,989 18,778 +22.43%
April 46,600 31,356 +48.61%
May 383,670 310,039 +23.75%
June 780,768 669,642 +16.59%
July 980,702 858,856 +14.19%
August 854,409 773,357 +10.48%
September 680,213 571,764 +18.97%
October 252,013 194,804 +29.4%
November 11,049 11,537 -0.04%
December 20,470 18,340 +11.6%
Total Year-To-Date
4,097,210 3,513,484 +16.6%

November and December, per usual, were slow months for the Park, although there were a few surprises in the final count. Slightly fewer people visited in November 2015 than November 2014; meanwhile, December 2015 saw a nearly 12 percent increase over December 2014.

“Last year’s visitation tested the capacity of Yellowstone National Park,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk in a press release. “We are looking at ways to reprioritize in order to protect resources, to provide additional ranger programs, and to keep facilities clean.”

The West Entrance saw the vast majority of travelers to Yellowstone, accounting for 42.5 percent of visitor traffic. Indeed, traffic through the West Entrance was up 21.2 percent over last year.

Overall, there are likely several factors to consider when it comes to the boost in Yellowstone visitation. Excitation leading up to the National Park’s Centennial may have contributed, along with the “Find Your Park” program and the Every Kid In A Park initiative, which offers free admission to fourth graders and their families to every national park across the United States.

It’s more than likely, however, Yellowstone visitation will be even higher in 2016, for many of the same reasons 2015 was so busy. “We will be asking park visitors to pack their patience for the upcoming summer season, as we expect more record breaking numbers in 2016, the National Park Service Centennial year,” said Superintendent Wenk.

2016 will also see a few important changes not only in Yellowstone but across the National Park system as well. Reportedly, according to a Yellowstone press release, Congress has pushed for increased funding for national parks and is also mulling special “Centennial” legislation that will solidify the NPS’ holdings and mission going ahead into the next century.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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