September 2017 visitation to Yellowstone National Park was perceptibly lower than September 2016, which was the busiest on record for the park.
According to a Yellowstone press release, 640,068 people came to Yellowstone this September, making it the third busiest September in park history. For comparison, 701,754 visitors came to Yellowstone in September 2016. This year marks an 8.79 percent decline from that amount.
The second busiest September on record occurred in 2015, when 680,213 visitors came to the park.
The decline in visitation can be attributed to a number of road closures that occurred through the month. Indeed, snow closed several roads in the park. These closures included the Dunraven Pass, which closed to wheeled vehicles for the season October 10. This pass, of course, sometimes closes early if inclement weather persists and if crews don’t think they can clean it up in time for the closure.
According to the press release, snow, ice and avalanche danger occurred September 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. In addition, the Beartooth Highway—connecting Yellowstone to southern Montana by way of Red Lodge—was closed for portions of the month.
Despite the dip in September visitation, Yellowstone National Park will see its second busiest year on record in 2017, with over 3.8 visitors counted. You can see the full numbers below.
|Year||Year-to-Date Recreational Visitors through September|
The increase in visitation to Yellowstone National Park (and, indeed, other national parks around the country) has precipitated concerns over overcrowding. We’ve reported in the past how park officials in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton have mulled instituting visitor caps or shifting over to more shuttle/bus travel to cut down on the number of cars in the park.
This summer, the park released a pair of visitor and traffic studies that predict Yellowstone’s road infrastructure could be stretched to its limits by 2021-23 unless measures are taken to reduce volume.
Meanwhile, a study published earlier this year by a researcher at the University of Montana limns similar overcrowding convers but suggests the problem isn’t so much the volume of people in the park as it is the oversized impact “bad actors” make (getting too close to wildlife, parking where they shouldn’t, speeding, etc.).