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Yellowstone visitation down 32% in June, but climbing

Yellowstone visitation down 32% in June, but climbing

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North Entrance

Cars back up at the North Entrance near Gardiner on June 26 to enter Yellowstone National Park.

Visitation to Yellowstone National Park was down 32% in June from the same month last year as the coronavirus pandemic kept some travelers home.

Yet as the month progressed, and the American public became less concerned about COVID-19 infection, visitation increased to the point that in the last 10 days of June traffic counts ranged from 90%-116% of 2019 numbers, according to a park press release.

The park hosted 534,155 visits in June.

So far in 2020, the park has hosted 667,290 visits, down 49% from the same period last year. The park was closed due to health and safety reasons related to COVID-19 beginning March 24. The park's two Wyoming entrances opened on May 18 and three Montana entrances opened on June 1. All five entrances were open for the entire month.

Through June of last year 1.35 million people had visited the park, compared to 1.38 million in 2018. There were no commercial bus visits during June 2020. In June 2019, bus passengers made up 70,461 visits.

Visitation to the North Entrance seems as strong as ever, according to Terese Petcoff, executive director of the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce. She noted visitors from around the nation have stopped by the center, as well as Montanans passing through on weekends.

"Our visitation has been more than it was last year," she said.

Around town Petcoff said it seemed like businesses are full of customers and employers are advertising for a variety of help.

"It definitely does not seem like there's been a change," she said. 

Inside the park, some campgrounds, lodging and restaurants remain closed. Xanterra Travel Collection, which operates several lodging facilities in the park, announced a reopening of some of its facilities this month. 

The Sandpiper Lodge at Lake Yellowstone Hotel opened on July 3. On July 10 a limited number of rooms at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Canyon Lodge were made available. On July 17 some hotel rooms will open at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.

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