Yellowstone National Park has emerged in spectacular fashion from a summer that could have gone down as the season of tourist-goring bison.
Instead, the nation’s first national park, known for its geysers and geological oddities, abundant wildlife and grand canyon, shattered attendance records with another three months left to pad them.
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Riding a banner summer, Yellowstone topped 3.8 million visitors through September. Its previous record attendance was just more than 3.6 million in 2010 – the entire year.
“This is certainly a noteworthy event,” said Dan Wenk, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent. “We are delighted to see that more and more visitors are making their way to Yellowstone to experience the park. However, it creates additional challenges for our staff who work hard to protect this amazing place while providing top-notch services for visitors. We want to do everything we can to make sure that park visitors have a safe and enjoyable trip, while at the same time protecting the special resources that Yellowstone was set aside to preserve.”
Oddly enough, the summer began with Yellowstone gaining headlines worldwide for a spate of bison-goring incidents, several involving tourists who ventured too close for photographs or selfies. A 68-year-old woman from Georgia was rushed to a local hospital after being gored during a hike near Yellowstone Lake. A 19-year-old girl also from Georgia was gored and tossed into the air, and a 16-year-old girl from Taiwan was gored while posing for a photo. In all, there were five bison-goring incidents this year.
Then in August, a Grizzly sow was euthanized after it was determined she killed and partially consumed Lance Crosby, a 63-year-old from Montana.
Still, Yellowstone attracted nearly 1 million visitors in July, then followed up with more than 850,000 in August. Its 680,213 visitors in September tipped Yellowstone’s year-to-date attendance over record levels.