2013 Yellowstone Vehicle Visitation Up 8.36%
Visitation to Yellowstone national Park is up almost 6% over last year's first five months, but the park is calculating visitors differently than it used to.
There were 293,250 recreational visitors to Yellowstone in May and a total of 392,222 for the first five months of 2013, the Billings Gazette reported.
However, comparing recreational visitor figures from 2013 with those from 2012 will not provide an accurate picture of year-to-year changes in park visitation.
Visitation statistics are calculated by taking the actual number of wheeled vehicles entering the park gates, and using a person-per-vehicle multiplier to calculate the number of monthly recreational visitors.
Last summer, Yellowstone conducted surveys to gauge the accuracy of the multipliers which have been in use for nearly 20 years. Based on the survey results, Yellowstone began using new, monthly lower person-per-vehicle multipliers as of January 2013.
For instance, during the summer months park staff previously used a multiplier of 2.91 persons-per-vehicle. This year and into the future, the park will use the lower multiplier of 2.58 persons-per-vehicle.
A better year-to-year comparison of park visitation may be to look at the number of autos and RVs entering the park for recreational purposes.
The total number of automobiles and RVs entering Yellowstone for recreational purposes during the first five months of 2013 was up 8.36% compared to the same period in 2012.
All park entrances saw an increase in vehicle numbers in May, compared to the same month the previous year, with the park’s East and South entrances posting the largest gains.
The actual number of vehicles entering Yellowstone this year for recreational purposes is expected to remain consistent with levels experienced in recent years.
Monthly and annual recreational visitor figures which will be reported over the course of this year may not reflect an actual significant change in the number of park visitors, just a different and more accurate accounting of park visitation.
July is typically the park’s peak visitation month, followed in order by August, June, September and May.