Success of winter season varies by park gate counts

Even as they look forward to the coming summer season for Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, tourism leaders and businesses are also reflecting on visitation numbers for the recently concluded winter season.

Statistics for winter recreational visitors from December through February show visitation for the two parks came in pretty close to last winter. This season’s total stands at 193,784, down about 1,300 from the 195,122 visits recorded during 2012-13.

Final results for the winter season won’t be available until the March counts are crunched by National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics, but the counts recorded so far give a good picture of the season considering that March typically ranks with December as one of the winter’s two slowest months.

Plowing is already underway this week in Yellowstone and on Teton Park Road in preparation for summer road openings in mid-April, concluding a winter season that saw slightly more recreational visitors in Grand Teton, and slightly fewer in Yellowstone, compared to a year earlier.

Grand Teton’s visitor count of 121,395 compares to 120,898 last season through February, while Yellowstone’s count stands at 72,389, down about 1,800 compared to 2012-13.

Yellowstone’s stats by the month show December visitation of 17,378, down almost 6 percent from the previous December; January visitation of 26,778, up 8.4% from last year; and February visitation of 28,233, down 9% from February 2013.

As usual, the North Entrance attracted the most visitors for the three-month period, with 36,675, followed by the West Entrance, 24,394, South, 10,885, and the East, 435.

The South Entrance showed consistent gains during the winter, up 2% for December, 25% for January, and 1.6% for February. By contrast, the East Entrance showed declines in visitation for each month.

The East Entrance counted 87 visitors in December, down 19% from last year, 192 visitors in January, down 4.5%, and 156 for February, down 29%. Overall, the East Gate counted 435 visitors this season and 529 last season, not including pending numbers for March.

Yellowstone is now preparing for the following 2014 Spring road vehicle openings:

  • April 18: Mammoth to Old Faithful; Madison to West Entrance; Norris to Canyon.
  • May 2: Canyon to Lake; Lake to East Entrance (Lake is one mile south of Fishing Bridge).
  • May 9: Lake to South Entrance; West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass); Tower to Tower Fall.
  • May 23: Tower Fall to Canyon (Dunraven Pass); Beartooth Highway.

For a closer look at visitation statistics for Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and National Park Service attractions nationwide, visit

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