Yellowstone Park vehicle traffic nearing capacity

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2016, file photo, a large bison blocks traffic as tourists take photos of the animals in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Sometime within the next four to six years, Yellowstone is expected to reach its capacity for being able to handle all the vehicles that tourists drive through the park every year to see its sights. The National Park Service says potential solutions that will be discussed include instituting a reservation system or passenger shuttles to control the number of visitors during peak times for the busiest attractions in the park. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Sometime within the next four to six years, Yellowstone National Park is expected to reach its capacity for being able to handle all the vehicles that tourists drive through the park to see sights like Old Faithful, wild wolves and grizzly bears and spectacular scenery.

Potential solutions include instituting a reservation system or passenger shuttles to control the number of visitors during peak times for the busiest attractions in the park, but no decisions will be made for at least a couple of years, according to the National Park Service.

"Historic and recent trends demonstrate that visitation will increase over the long-term, therefore, it is imperative for us to plan now," Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said in a statement. "Good visitor use management will allow the park to protect resources, encourage access, and improve experiences."

The agency on Thursday released a pair of studies looking at traffic and parking in the nation's first national park and visitor demographics and expectations.

Based on conservative estimates of visitor growth to the park, the traffic study said the nation's first national park should expect to exceed its overall vehicular capacity by 2021-2023.

"The more popular areas of the park are already over capacity under current conditions during peak season," the study noted.

Two-thirds of the more than 1,250 visitors surveyed in August 2016 said that finding available parking is a problem and more than half think there are too many people in the park.

The report recommended additional traffic studies within the park and the Greater Yellowstone region to help park officials develop solutions that could include developing a plan that "evaluates and defines visitor capacities for key locations in the park."

One suggestion the report made was that park service officials might consider managing the number of visitors to the busy geyser basin attractions during peak time through "reservation systems."

Using shuttles, which have been adopted by some other national parks, is another possible solution.

The park service pledged to gather more information through 2019 that "will guide the park in evaluating trade-offs in visitor experience and developing the most appropriate strategies to address summer season visitor use challenges." It promised to listen to all concerns to help shape any actions.

Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said Thursday that no decisions are imminent and that the park considers the matter to be in a "pre-planning phase."

More than 4.25 million people visited Yellowstone in 2016.

According to the survey of park visitors, 83 percent of Yellowstone's visitors come from the United States and 17 percent come from abroad with people from Europe and China the top two respectively among international travelers.

Must Read

2 injured, fire contained on docked Tahoe paddle...

Aug 17, 2016

Fire ripped through the second deck of a docked tourist cruise boat under repair at Lake Tahoe on...

US Olympic gold hasn't made for winning bets in...

Aug 19, 2016

Rowing, shooting and judo _ the U.S. may have won big gold medals in those Olympic events but some...

Closures on Yellowstone River, waterways continue

Aug 20, 2016

Closures on a 183-mile stretch of the Yellowstone River and hundreds of miles of other waterways...

Campaign, party officials insist Trump getting...

Aug 21, 2016

Top GOP and Trump campaign officials say Trump is getting back on track after some of the most...

New Smithsonian offers a view of rich black...

Aug 22, 2016

A sneak peek inside the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture...

People also read these

Slain runner from NYC laid to rest in...

Aug 16, 2016

A New York City woman killed while out running near her mother's Massachusetts home was remembered...

Target cuts outlook as it sees fewer customers in...

Aug 17, 2016

Target cut its profit forecast and a key sales outlook amid stiffer competition and its own...

United Airlines new CEO replaces 2 top executives

Aug 18, 2016

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz named a new chief financial officer and new chief commercial officer

Sanders' wife defends non-disclosure, vacation...

Aug 18, 2016

Sen. Bernie Sanders has pushed hard for transparency on U.S. trade and campaign finance, but has...

Campaign, party officials insist Trump getting...

Aug 21, 2016

Top GOP and Trump campaign officials say Trump is getting back on track after some of the most...

In Daily Travelogue, we aim to provide rich content for the budget traveler. We only publish blog post that is informative and entertaining to add value to our readers’ user experience.

Contact us: sales@travelogue.com