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Yellowstone Winter Visitation Impacted by Heavy Snowfall

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Date: April 11, 2011
Contact: Al Nash, 307-344-2015

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
April 11, 2011   11-023
Al Nash (307) 344-2015


Yellowstone Winter Visitation Impacted By Heavy Snowfall

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.



                              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.



                               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.

- www.nps.gov/yell -

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