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Yellowstone Winter Visitation Impacted By Heavy Snowfall

Published online: Apr 20, 2011 News

Heavy early season snowfall which continued through the season is believed responsible for the change in Yellowstone's visitation this past winter as compared to the previous year, depressing wheeled vehicle entries and providing a slight boost to oversnow travel.

 

Overall visitor numbers for December 2010 through March 2011 were down 5.36 percent from Winter 2009-2010. The decline came in the number of visitors who came by auto, bus and RV through the park's north entrance which was off nearly 12 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

 

The number of snowmobile visitors was up slightly this year, after dropping off significantly between Winter 2007-2008 and Winter 2008-2009. The number of snowcoach visitors also dropped between those same two winters, but has also rebounded and this past winter was slightly larger than the number of people who entered the park by snowmobile.

 

DECEMBER THROUGH MARCH VISITATION

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                                                Winter              Winter              Winter              Winter

                                                2010-11           2009-10           2008-09           2007-08  

Total Recreational Visitors          88,804             93,838             86,784             99,975

Auto, Bus and RV (North Ent.) 47,930               54,426             47,259             50,175

By Snowmobile and Snowcoach 45,465             42,616             42,380             53,764

Snowmobile Visitors                 22,691              22,228             23,417             31,420

Snowcoach Visitors                  22,774              20,388             18,963             22,344

This past winter, Yellowstone operated under a temporary winter use plan, which allowed for up to 318 commercially guided, best available technology snowmobiles, and 78 commercial snowcoaches a day in the park. The two-year temporary plan expired at the end of this winter season.

 

The daily average and peak snowmobile and snowcoach activity figures include both visitors who come through the park entrances, and those who start their day from Old Faithful.

 

SNOWMOBILE AND SNOWCOACH ACTIVITY

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                                                Winter              Winter              Winter              Winter

                                                2010-11           2009-10           2008-09           2007-08      

Snowmobiles - Daily Average    194                    187                  205                  294

Snowmobiles - Peak Day         289                  293                  426                  557

Snowcoaches - Daily Average   40                     32                    29                    35

Snowcoaches - Peak Day         68                    59                    54                    60

 

The National Park Service is preparing a new long-term plan to guide future management of winter use in Yellowstone. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will analyze the effects of a wide range of winter use alternatives on the park and its resources, is expected to be released in early May for a 60-day review and comment period. The National Park Service intends to finish the plan and issue any new winter use regulations before the start of the 2011-2012 winter season.