Predictions for a huge summer of outdoor visitation in Wyoming appear to be coming true as pandemic-weary travelers flood the state’s public lands.
Long lines, full reservations and overflowing parking lots have been the norm at many outdoor destinations, particularly high-profile northwest Wyoming spots like Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park.
Grand Teton hosted a record 363,712 recreation visits in May — a 30% jump from May 2019. Camping in the park that month saw a 93% hike over May 2019, and backcountry camping increased by 117%, according to the National Park Service. June numbers have not yet been released.
Nearby Yellowstone National Park also experienced record visitation in May, with 483,159 recreation visits, an 11% increase over May 2019, according to the NPS. Superintendent Cam Sholly told WyoFile in May he expects more visitors than ever this season.
Park managers are urging visitors to come prepared.
“Summer is Yellowstone’s busiest season,” a recent National Park Service press release read. “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.”
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Part of the messaging effort warns travelers to give wildlife a wide berth. Yellowstone’s first bison goring of the year occurred on June 20, according to the Jackson Hole News&Guide. A woman hiker was flown to Idaho for treatment after being injured in an incident on the shore of Yellowston Lake, the paper reports.
On Togwotee Pass, meanwhile, wildlife managers have been struggling with dangerous traffic conditions as crowds flock to watch or photograph a female grizzly and her two cubs.
This headline could have been written almost every summer for the past fifty years. Go to the name-brand attractions and there will be crowds but, in fact, that’s less than 1% of the park’s acreage. Enjoy.