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Yellowstone National Park sets a record for visits in August

Yellowstone National Park sets a record for visits in August

(CNN) – With health experts guiding travelers toward outdoor destinations and activities during the pandemic, U.S. national parks have been a natural magnet. More evidence of that came Tuesday.

Yellowstone National Park set a record for visits in August, the National Park Service said in a press release.

The park hosted 921,844 recreational visits last month – equivalent to nearly the entire population of Austin, Texas who visited there. And that was an increase of 4.5% compared to August 2020.

Park officials say the previous record for August was set in 2017, when people flocked to Yellowstone to witness this year’s epic solar eclipse.

At the end of August this year, Yellowstone experienced 3,590,904 visits.

It is on track for an annual record and a 40% increase during 2020, when the park was affected by pandemic travel restrictions and briefly closed.

Busy all summer

An influx of visitors is forcing Arches National Park in Utah to temporarily close its gates almost daily. And disappointed visitors are not the only consequence of overcrowding. The National Park Service is expecting one of its busiest summers ever, so Arches will not be the only popular park where crowds can be a problem. CNN’s Lucy Kafanov reports.

This news does not come as a surprise to people who have been a part of the huge waves that have been trying to gain access to popular national parks all summer.

In fact, Arches still warns potential visitors that “parking lots at the track may fill up before 9 a.m., causing the park to temporarily restrict access until congestion is reduced.” Its website said that restricted access can last from three to five hours.

Prospects for autumn

The National Park Service says you should not expect the crowds to thin too much by the fall either.

If you plan to enjoy Yellowstone in the fall, the NPS said you should make plans well in advance and be ready to share the space with other travelers. A few things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Yellowstone or other national parks for that matter:

– Most camping and accommodation reservations have already been taken and motel rooms can be hours away.

– It has also been a very dry season out in the west. Be aware of wildfire news as you plan your trip. Also be an attentive caretaker for your bonfires.

– More people means more potential wildlife encounters that have gone bad. NPS says at least 25 yards (23 meters) from all wildlife and 100 yards (91 meters) from bears and wolves must be kept.

Top image: Tourists see Old Faithful eruption in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming this spring. (Kayla Renie / Jackson Hole News & Guide via AP)

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