People exploring Midway Geyser Basin.

Despite COVID-19, a national economic slowdown, and fewer in-Park lodging options available, Yellowstone National Park broke its September record for visitation.

A total of 837,499 people passed through the Park’s turnstiles in September, a more than 21% increase in traffic from September 2019. The previous record was set in 2018.

After a very slow start to the year, Yellowstone has now rebounded to within 11% of 2019 visitation at this point, reaching 3,383,872 visitors. It is about 500,000 people fewer than the typical total achieved through September over the last five years.

The Park was closed due to health and safety reasons related to COVID-19 beginning March 24. The two Wyoming entrances opened on May 18 and the three Montana entrances opened on June 1.

Park County’s sales and use tax was also up for September by 2.7% to $496,728.81. The county is now down 9.4% on the year for sales and use. Barb Poley, Park County treasurer, also said September’s lodging tax numbers had increased from the previous year, but revenue from that tax is still down 42.6% when compared to the same July-September time period in 2019.

As of the beginning of October, 0.8% or 16 of the Park’s roughly 2,000 employees had tested positive for COVID-19. The Park had four positive employee cases between May 18 and August 30. A contractor also tested positive in June.

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