Park Still Seeing Heavy Traffic

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karenandbill
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Park Still Seeing Heavy Traffic

Post by karenandbill »

Today, Friday Sept. 25, we went into the park at the West Entrance to hike a trail. As we were coming back between Madison Junction and the West Entrance, there was an 8-10 mile traffic back up due to the elk herd along the Madison and just so many vehicles entering the park.

August saw the second largest number of visits on record for the month, second only to the year of the eclipse. September looks to me to be even worse (or better depending on your perspective). I would guess this will be a record for the month of September. And this is without the foreign visitors. One theory has it that people from California, Oregon, and Washington are flocking in to escape the smoke from the wildfires. Can't say as I'd blame them. Just from our observation, we have seen a lot of California and Washington license plates. Seems there are a lot of first timers as well, judging by the bison and elk jams. It's great to see that so many people are getting out to see the beautiful land. But, selfishly, I was looking forward to having less traffic like is typical at this time of year.

Smoke is still present. We get a break for a day or two when it rains. But then it starts filtering back in. We need a strong west coast storm to suppress the wild fires.



RikWriter
Posts: 338
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:36 pm

Re: Park Still Seeing Heavy Traffic

Post by RikWriter »

It wasn't too bad back in early September when I went, but nothing can match back in late May for me. That was magical. I only had half the park, but I had it nearly to myself.



Dorothy
Posts: 165
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: Park Still Seeing Heavy Traffic

Post by Dorothy »

I echo your thoughts, @billandkaren -- I'm happy that more people get a chance to experience this wonderful park, but ... I always schedule my visits in early spring and later fall to try to avoid the crowds, so I'm not really thrilled that it's still really crowded. Sigh -- was hoping for some "wide open spaces" with room to watch animals without a huge crowd. Doesn't sound like that will be the case. At least we DID get some lower hotel prices by coming a bit later!

We're looking at either coming through West Yellowstone and then maybe do the Old Faithful side of things that late morning/afternoon, or maybe come up through the Tetons (it would mean later getting to Old Faithful and such, but avoiding that West Yellowstone-to-Madison possible traffic jam) for that first day. So if you go again, please let us know how things are looking! :) We don't have to make a decision on that yet, but will be looking at it in a few days.

However busy it is, we'll be SO happy be be back in Yellowstone for a few days, and then get a day or two in the Tetons. Our planned trip was cut a couple of days short as I was unable to get as much time off work as I'd hoped. But it will be GREAT!

Thanks for all your reports and help! I love reading your reports.



karenandbill
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Re: Park Still Seeing Heavy Traffic

Post by karenandbill »

RikWriter wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:22 pm
It wasn't too bad back in early September when I went, but nothing can match back in late May for me. That was magical. I only had half the park, but I had it nearly to myself.
Yeah. It was really good until late June. Even after the upper loop opened there were still very few people. I remember hiking out the Slough Creek Trail and we saw one person. That trail is usually packed. There were a few wolf watchers in Hayden and Lamar, but you could easily find a parking space. Not so now. The traffic has gotten worse the last half of September especially on the weekends. With the fall colors nearing peak it probably will stay that way for a while.
Dorothy wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 9:10 pm
We're looking at either coming through West Yellowstone and then maybe do the Old Faithful side of things that late morning/afternoon, or maybe come up through the Tetons (it would mean later getting to Old Faithful and such, but avoiding that West Yellowstone-to-Madison possible traffic jam) for that first day. So if you go again, please let us know how things are looking! We don't have to make a decision on that yet, but will be looking at it in a few days.
We went in about 7:15 AM today and there were just a few cars in line. But coming back out at 11:00, it was terrible for those coming in. Not much of a back-up at the entrance, but just over the Wyoming line it was solid all the way back to the elk meadow with mostly stopped traffic. A ranger was desperately trying to pass all the stopped vehicles with his lights flashing. He pulled back into his lane as we cautiously approached. Hopefully, he got to where the elk were and got the traffic moving.

We are heading down to the Tetons tomorrow (Saturday). But we are leaving our place about 5:30 to get out to a trail by 8:00 AM. We will let you know how traffic is as we'll be going in the West entrance and out the South Entrance, probably reversing that on the way home.

What day are you coming in? If it's not a Friday, you should be OK coming in the West entrance.



karenandbill
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:55 am

Re: Park Still Seeing Heavy Traffic

Post by karenandbill »

We woke to rain this morning, what a blessing! The air is fresh and clean. Since the radar showed heavier rain in the Tetons, we changed plans and went to Lamar to see the Junctions and they were out! If I get a chance, I'll post a trip report.

Anyway, the park was crowded but not nearly as bad as I thought it might be, considering yesterday's traffic jam. Parking spaces were mostly taken in Lamar near the wolves, but we were able to squeeze off the road at 8:00 AM and there was not a huge traffic tie-up. So that was good. After hiking, we left the park around 3:30, and there was a steady stream of vehicles heading to West Yellowstone, but no huge backups.



Dorothy
Posts: 165
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 7:45 pm

Re: Park Still Seeing Heavy Traffic

Post by Dorothy »

You guys are the best (and yes, I see it's karenandbill rather than how I had it earlier!:) )

We are hoping to get an early start and get up to Yellowstone on Thursday sometime. It would probably not be until about 9:30 or 10:30 a.m. if we were coming into West Yellowstone, so that was what concerned us -- that seems to be a bad time to try to come in from West Yellowstone (we recall a year or so ago coming in at the West Yellowstone entrance about 10:30 a.m. and spending 1 1/2 hours getting to Madison Junction -- and seeing bumper-to-bumper traffic heading down to Old Faithful). If we come through the Tetons (where we've been seeing that there have been quite a few bears being seen along Moose Wilson this past week, but have no idea if they'll still be in the area by the time we get there), we'd probably be coming through the South Entrance around noonish, I'd think, and then hope to get a look at Old Faithful and maybe do the Grand Prismatic overlook (if the parking lot isn't full), Midway Geyser Basin, etc., before heading up to Gardiner (where we're staying). We have an old friend of my sister's with us who wants to do the thermals as well as animal viewing, so we thought we'd try to do that "lower west" part of the loop on Thursday.

Anyway, I'll keep and eye out for more from you (thanks in advance) and we'll figure out what we HOPE will be best come next week.

Again, thanks so much!



Mike W.
Posts: 49
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:11 pm

Re: Park Still Seeing Heavy Traffic

Post by Mike W. »

Interesting that it was a busy season, or at the least not slow. Out of the norm, but I hadn't finalized vacation plans when the s*** hit the fan in March. Yellowstone was a possibility, but really probably not. But travel, while not really even semi-prohibited like it was for a while, seems unwise, so we're grumpy sitting at home. Not wanting to get into the political realm, but I place a far higher degree of trust in those with MD behind their names than JD. But I do have reservations at OF Lodge Cabins next August!!! Woo Hoo! Dunno what's going to happen between now and then, but I've got my fingers crossed.



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