Yellowstone: May 2021 sees Nearly 500,000 People – “Most Visited on Record”
Written by Andrew-Rossi on June 11, 2021
Not only did May 2021 visitation significantly surpass 2020’s numbers, Yellowstone saw more visitors than any other May in the park’s 149-year history.
Park officials released Yellowstone’s visitation numbers for May 2021. Once again, the nation’s first national park is experiencing a post-pandemic boom in visitation, keeping the year on track to become the busiest in the park’s history.
Overall, there were 483,159 recreation visits to Yellowstone in May 2021. This is an 11% increase from May 2019 – the last “regular” year in the park.
May 2020 only saw 145,849 people. However, park officials say May 2020 should not be used as a good year-to-year comparison due to the park being completely closed until May 18. Even then, only the two Wyoming entrances were open for the duration of May.
The Montana entrances were closed for the entirety of May 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. Montana’s three entrances opened on June 1.
So far, in 2021, the park has hosted 658,513 recreation visits, up 14% from 2019.
- 2021 – 658,513
- 2020 – 145,849 *
- 2019 – 576,776
- 2018 – 570,823
- 2017 – 550,486
- 2016 – 593,755
* The park was closed from May 1 through May 18. Two entrances were open from May 18 through May 31.
In 2020, COVID-19 threatened Yellowstone’s ability to open at all. Now, post-pandemic trends may break the park’s visitation records.
Yellowstone has seen several record-breaking months over the past year. Both September and October 2020 were the busiest ever recorded, and August 2020 was the 2nd busiest in its history.
The final visitation number for 2020 was 3.8 million people. Despite an early winter closure, delayed May 14 spring opening, and the much-later June 1 opening of the Montana entrances, it was still one of the busiest years in recent memory.
- 2020 – 3,806,305
- 2019 – 4,020,288
- 2018 – 4,115,000
- 2017 – 4,116,524
- 2016 – 4,257,177
- 2015 – 4,097,710
Visitation in 2021 is currently on track to exceed 4 million for 2021. If May 2021 is any indicator, the pandemic may have encouraged the trend of higher yearly visitation.
Summer is Yellowstone’s busiest season. Millions of people visit the park in June, July, and August. If you plan to travel to Yellowstone this summer, plan ahead, expect crowding, recreate responsibly, and take the Yellowstone Pledge to protect yourself and the park.
More data on park visitation, including how we calculate these numbers, is available on the NPS Stats website.