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Grand Teton surpassed park’s busiest full year in September

NPS Photo/J. Bonney

MOOSE, Wyo. (KIFI) — Grand Teton National Park hosted 3,493,937 recreation visits between January and September 2021, already surpassing the park’s busiest full year on record with three months to go in 2021.

Previously, 2018 had the record for most recreation visits in a year with 3,491,151 visits. Of the past nine months, six have been record setting for visitation.

Some of the largest increases in recreation visits occurred during the shoulder season, including the months of March, April, and May. Summer visitation (June, July, August) also increased with July 2021 recording the busiest month for recreation visits in Grand Teton’s history.

The park has also seen increases in trail use. During the 2021 summer, trail use increased approximately 29%, compared to 2019. Looking back five years ago, since 2017, trail use has increased approximately 49%.

“2021 has been a record setting year for visitation in Grand Teton National Park, but it’s more than just the numbers. We are seeing changing patterns and behavior including more people in the backcountry and more visitors in the ‘shoulder season.’ The park is studying changing visitation to gain a more detailed understanding of existing conditions and learning what issues may threaten a quality visitor experience. We are also learning from other parks, seeing what solutions are being tried and what issues they are solving,” Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins said. “The visitor experience is a resource, just like moose or clean air, and it’s something we are actively working to preserve and protect.”

Grand Teton park staff continue to analyze data and studies conducted over the summer to better understand changing visitation trends in the park. Studies include visitor-use and experience studies at Colter Bay, Taggart and Lupine Meadows trailheads, which surveyed visitors in these areas to gain a better understanding of visitor demographics, visitor expectations, and more. Additionally, a parkwide visitor mobility study was conducted this summer to identify common visitor travel patterns and flow.

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