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Yellowstone National Park South Entrance, Yellowstone visitation

May 2017 Second Busiest May on Record in Yellowstone

May 2017 was the second busiest May on record in Yellowstone National Park, with nearly 420,000 visitors reported.

According to a Yellowstone press release, 419,627 visitors came to Yellowstone in May.

The busiest May in Yellowstone history, of course, came last year, when 444,630 visitors came to the park. Indeed, 2016 was the busiest year on record for Yellowstone visitation.

So far, 550,413 people have visited Yellowstone National Park in 2017, down from 593,755 this time last year. However, there has been a significant spike in visitation to Yellowstone since 2013—28.7 percent higher, in fact. You can see a comparison of year-to-date visitation below, courtesy of the National Park Service.

Year Year-to-Date Recreational Visits
2013 392,222
2014 415,185
2015 518,087
2016 593,755
2017 550,413

Park officials have been warning for years that visitation to Yellowstone is only expected to increase. Indeed, officials have been mulling ways to address visitor impact on the park system, including individual vehicle caps and increased bus/shuttle traffic.

A recent study from the University of Montana has found over-visitation brings a host of headaches for both managers and visitors—although it’s not so much the amount of people visiting as it is what those people are doing. Indeed, most respondents said that “bad behavior” tourists were more worrisome than “crowding” in and of itself.

About Sean Reichard

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

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