BOZEMAN, Mont — Yellowstone National Park has reported that it had the most-ever September visitors.
The increase contrasts sharply with May, when visitation rates were 90% lower compared to the same month last year.
The park recorded about 837,000 visits in September, a rate 21% higher than September 2019 and 15.6% higher than the park's second-busiest September on record in 2018, when it hosted 724,000 people.
Yellowstone was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic from March 24 to May 18, when its two Wyoming entrances reopened.
In June, the park opened its three other entrances and visitation rates improved slightly. The park reported a 32% decline in visitors compared to the same month last year. Visitation rates through June were down 49% compared to numbers from the first six months of 2019.
A rapid uptick saw an increase of 2% in visitation rates in July compared to the same month last year. The park hosted 955,645 visitors in July compared to 534,000 people in June.
The park hosted 820,000 visitors in August, a 7.5% increase in its year-over-year rates. It was its second-busiest August on record.
The national park's peak season is typically from May through September. Tourism tends to taper off in September and October. Most lodges, restaurants, stores and other services close for the year in October, followed by all park roads in early November.
Yellowstone's roughly eight-week closure due to the coronavirus pandemic means total visits are still down 11% from the same time last year, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
Sara Fleming, a spokesperson for the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce, said the uptick in tourists could be caused by an increase in the amount of young people who have visited the park in recent months. She said more young people between 20 and 50 have visited the park than in previous summers.