Yellowstone Attendance Didn't Hit 4 Million in 2020 - But Was Still High

Yellowstone Attendance Didn’t Hit 4 Million in 2020 – But Was Still High

Written by on January 28, 2021

3,806,305 – that’s how many people visited Yellowstone National Park in 2020.

 Park officials have released the 2020 visitation numbers for Yellowstone National Park. On initial review, you might not even notice the national and global factors that had many fearing the park wouldn’t open at all last year.

Yellowstone’s gates recorded 3,806,305 people entering the park in 2020. The totals for the previous five years are:

  • 2019 – 4,020,288

  • 2018 – 4,115,000

  • 2017 – 4,116,524

  • 2016 – 4,257,177

  • 2015 – 4,097,710

This will be the first year since 2015 that visitation hasn’t crossed the four million mark. It also the lowest visitation number since 2014 – 3.51 million people.

Despite COVID-19, delayed openings of park entrances, and a global pandemic – the difference between 2019’s and 2020’s Yellowstone visitation . . .

 . . . was only  5%.

Yellowstone’s 2020 summer season didn’t get off to a great start. While the Wyoming Entrances (East and South) opened close to their usual time mid-May, the three Montana Entrances (North, West, and Northeast) stayed closed until June 1.

Many of the park’s hotels, interpretive centers, and other visitor amenities kept their doors shut thru the entire summer and into the winter.

2020’s attendance was buoyed by record-setting visitation in September and October, and the second busiest August on record. The only busier August in Yellowstone was 2017 when Wyoming was in the path of a total solar eclipse.

2021 has the potential to be even better than years past. The multi-year construction at Fishing Bridge, to restore Pelican Creek and surrounding marshes – concluded in October 2020, while a multi-million dollar of historic buildings at Fort Yellowstone is set to begin, thanks to funds from the Great American Outdoors Act.

Various new amenities, like self-driving shuttles at Canyon Village, are being added to enhance the Yellowstone experience for visitors and staff in 2021.

Unlike the fervor of 2020, there is no indication that the Spring 2021 opening for the park’s entrances will be delayed. The Wyoming and Montana Entrances will open for the Summer 2021 season at the following times (weather permitting):

  • April 16: West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village.
  • May 7: East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass), Canyon Village to Lake Village.
  • May 7: Tower Junction to Calcite Springs.
  • May 14: South Entrance to West Thumb, Lake Village to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), Tower Junction to Tower Fall.
  • May 28: Beartooth Highway

The Tower-Roosevelt to Chittenden Road will remain closed for the entire 2021 season, as it undergoes significant road construction. Work will also continue on the expansion of kiosks and traffic lanes at the North Entrance.

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