Yellowstone crowds flow across a boardwalk at the Midway Geyser Basin

Crowd of visitors follow the boardwalk near Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. 

Yellowstone's year of breaking records hit a new milestone in September, when huge fall crowds pushed the national park's total annual year to date visitation past 4 million for the first time in history.

Yellowstone experienced its busiest September on record, hosting 872,695 recreation visits, the National Park Service reported Wednesday. That represents a 4% increase from September 2020, when 837,114 visits were logged, and a 26% increase from September 2019, which had 693,118 visits.

Add those September numbers to previous jaw-dropping numbers so far in 2021, and the park has hosted a total of 4,463,599 recreation visits. That's an increase of 32% from the same period last year, and up 17% from 2019, park service officials stated. 

"Never in Yellowstone's history have we seen such substantial visitation increases in such a short amount of time," said Superintendent Cam Sholly in a press release. "We will continue working with our teams and partners to develop and implement appropriate short- and long-term actions for managing increasing visitation across the park. My thanks to our teams here for working through a record visitation year, especially with the continued workforce challenges presented by COVID-19."

The list below shows the year-to-date trend for recreation visits over the last several years (through September):

2021 – 4,463,599

2020 – 3,393,642*

2019 – 3,807,815

2018 – 3,860,695

2017 – 3,872,775

2016 – 3,970,778

*The park was closed March 24-May 18, 2020, due to COVID-19. Two entrances were open May 18-31 and the remaining three opened on June 1.

We've got more coverage on this year's record-breaking visitation numbers for Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone and Jackson Hole in general

Also see analysis about the impact of that growth in: 

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