Phase 1: 2016
To better understand the vehicular capacity of the park, we commissioned a study to analyze traffic and parking conditions in the summer of 2016. In particular, we wanted to:
Data was collected over a three-day period from August 14 to 16, 2016 using a variety of traffic counters, video recorders, and direct observation by members of the study team. This data was coupled with year-round gate and traffic counter data collected by the NPS to inform the results of this study.
The study examined the routes traveled by visitors between each of the park’s five entrances. They most commonly traveled routes included:
In heavily-used corridors like the West Entrance, mid-summer traffic volume is roughly 30% higher than roads and parking lots can comfortably and safely handle. During July, vehicles travel in tight groups following closely behind one another nearly 60% to 80% of the time. Traffic volumes repeatedly approached levels where road performance begins to decrease rapidly with additional vehicle volume.
During much of the summer, demand for parking exceeds capacity from late morning through late afternoon at the park’s most heavily visited attractions, especially the geyser basins and overlooks at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Vehicular demand for roads and parking in Yellowstone is expected to exceed capacity between 2021 and 2023.
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Phase 2: 2018
To better understand vehicle flow, parking, and intersection conditions in the corridor between the West Gate and Old Faithful, we commissioned a second phase of the 2016 Transportation and Vehicle Mobility Study.
Phase II documents existing transportation and visitor use conditions along the corridor between the West Gate and Old Faithful, analyzes the relationship between vehicle numbers in the park and parking lot capacities, and assesses how often Madison Junction and other intersections are over capacity. The study simulates three hypothetical mitigation strategies:
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Last updated: January 20, 2022