2021 was a record year for Yellowstone National Park, with almost 4.5 million visitors. Of course, this is big business for several Montana towns that rely on tourism to make a living and feed their families.

So hopes were high in 2022, especially with the park celebrating its 150th Anniversary. In fact, everyone predicted that this year would set an all-time record, but unfortunately that didn't happen. In fact, we were down almost one-third from the year before.

According to numbers that were recently released, 2022 had the lowest attendance in the last six years. With just over 3 million visitors to the park this year, that's down about 1.4 million from last year. In fact, it's down more than 300,000 from 2020, which was the COVID year.

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The reason?

Well, there could be several, but of course the biggest factor was the record flooding we saw back in June. In fact, the flooding was so bad that those visiting the Park had to be evacuated and the Park itself was closed for several days. When the Park re-opened, there were only three entrances available due to the washed-out highways around the Gardiner area.

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Something else to consider is the high price of fuel. We spent much of the summer with gas prices hovering around 5 dollars a gallon here in Montana. This, no doubt, was another factor when it came to American vacation plans, and while gas prices have come down, they're still right around 4 bucks a gallon.

So will Yellowstone National Park attendance bounce back in 2023? You would certainly think so, and for all of those folks that depend on tourism to live, we certainly hope so.

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