One of America’s most popular national parks had its busiest September on record
One of America's most popular national parks saw its busiest September during a pandemic.
Yellowstone National Park announced Thursday that nearly 837,500 tourists visited the park in September.
"This is a 21% increase from September 2019, making it the busiest September ever," the park said in an October 8 press release.
According to the National Park Service, Yellowstone was the sixth most popular national park in 2019. Almost 4 million people visited during the year.
However, in 2020, the park closed its gates to all visitors at the end of March to help contain the spread of the coronavirus until the gates of Wyoming reopened on May 18. All gates in Montana reopened on June 1st.
The 2020 total viewing was affected by the park's closure and is still 11% down on the same period last year, according to the National Park Service.
However, thousands of visitors have traveled to Yellowstone since the park reopened. August 2020 was the second-largest August on record when 881,543 people visited the park, the National Park Service said.
The high number of visitors since the park reopened has unintended consequences. In July, the park said face masks flew off tourists' faces and landed in geysers.
"In a single visit last week, we came across 8 masks, 5 hats, 3 water bottles and sunglasses," said the park in a post on Facebook on July 20.
At least 20 Yellowstone employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the park reopened. In September, 16 employees at the park tested positive for the coronavirus. From May 18 to August 30, four employees at the park tested positive, according to the National Park Service.
"Working with the states of Montana and Wyoming, the park has significantly increased the number of employee surveillance tests, running more than 1,100 tests since the first week of September," the park said. "More than 3,000 tests have been carried out since the park reopened in May."
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