Yellowstone tops 3 million summer visitors for third straight year

For the third straight year, Yellowstone National Park has seen more than 3 million visitors pass through its gates during the summer months alone. Those lofty numbers come despite a colder than normal start to the season and a host of unique PR challenges that could have easily discouraged travelers from visiting.

Winter in the western U.S. was a long and cold one, with heavy snow lasting well into the spring. When the roads into Yellowstone opened in May, there was still plenty of snow and ice throughout the park. That resulted in a slower than normal start to the travel season, although June, July, and August, traditionally the three busiest months of the year, rebounded nicely.

It was a challenging summer for visitors to America’s first national park. Avalanches and rock slides closed roads early on, making travel difficult. Later forest fires were a small, but potential danger, and in July, a grizzly bear attacked and killed a hiker. That tragedy was the first of its kind inside Yellowstone in more than 25 years.

Despite those challenges however, visitors still flocked to the park, with more than 900,000 in July alone. Those impressive numbers prove that the national parks remain a popular option for travelers looking to explore the best outdoor destinations in the U.S.