PHS students express their opinion for the 2021 tourist season

Austin Graft

More stories from Austin Graft

January 28, 2022

Stacy Boisseau

The McIntosh family were the first tourists in Yellowstone for the past three years. This will be their sixth year being the first in the park.

After a steady decline for the past four years, the number of visitors at Yellowstone National Park is finally rising.

Since 2016, the number of visitors has decreased consistently and has dropped even lower since the dawn of the COVID-19 Pandemic.The local economy would be in trouble, but thankfully the numbers are back on their way up.

“The tourists are a good thing,” freshman Ethan Melton said. “That’s where most of the local stores get their money.”

The tourists are a good thing. That’s where most of the local stores get their money.”

— Ethan Melton

As of Oct. 14, the park had charted four and a half million total visits, up 32% from 2020. The sheer amount of visitors is intimidating, even for lifetime residents of the area.

“[The tourists] make traffic really bad,” Melton said, citing Old Faithful as his favorite geyser, an attraction jam-packed with 4 million people who visit annually.

But the beauty of Yellowstone is that bison tend to cause more traffic concerns than humans. According to the Idaho Statesman, about 4,700 bison roam the park, and they need to cross over many roads. And according to Yellowstone National Park Trips, the bison even know the right of way and to stay in their lane.

Junior Asher Aguirre agrees that the tourists tend to be difficult, but considers them necessary.

“[The tourists] help pay for the parks but sometimes are annoying,” Aguirre said. “They don’t know how to drive.”

Aguirre’s favorite place to visit in Yellowstone is Grand Prismatic Spring, the third largest hot spring in the world, and a major tourist attraction which does well for the park.

Perhaps some credit for the massive influx of tourists goes to a special event that occurred during the period of time that the park was closed.

Steamboat, the largest active geyser in the world, erupted during the offseason with only geothermic sensors to witness it. Hoping to see such an event happen again has potentially attracted more locals or people who otherwise wouldn’t have come.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel for Yellowstone, and the rise in tourists proves that the park is on the way back to its former glory.