Yes, the stories about lines and traffic jams created by Yellowstone crowds are indeed true, as the National Park Service tallied 810,884 visits in June 2018, a slight increase over last year (803,652 visits) and below June 2016 (838,316 visits) numbers, which remains the busiest June ever in Yellowstone.
So far in 2018, the park has hosted 1,381,707 visits, up 2.5 percent from the same period last year. The list below shows the trend over the last five years. Year-to-date visitation in 2018 is 27 percent higher than five years ago in 2014.
Year-to-date Recreation Visits (through June)
2018 – 1,381,707
2017 – 1,354,138
2016 – 1,432,071
2015 – 1,298,855
2014 – 1,084,826
There are several issues raised by this level of visitation. First, there are always questions about whether Yellowstone infrastructure is up to the task of handling large numbers of visitors. Coming up with a plan to address this issue was on the to-do list of Dan Wenk it was announced he would be leaving in August, and we’ll need to see whether new Yellowstone National Park management will continue his efforts. (A current NPS study of visitation and what visitors actually do in the Park will go a long way towards addressing policy issues.) Then, of course, there’s the issue of even more folks hitting Yellowstone this month and next, as we enter a long, hot and potentially dry summer. The crowds and the lines will certainly lead to questions about how the Park is being managed for the long haul — and there certainly are no easy answers.