Just nine months into 2021, Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park already has had its busiest year on record.
The park joins nearby Yellowstone in setting visitation records this year.
Grand Teton had almost 3.5 million recreation visits between January and September. The official count of 3,493,937 topped 2018′s full-year record by 2,786, park officials said in a statement Wednesday.
The increased tourism has meant more traffic. Trail use is up 29% from 2019 and 49% from 2016.
Visitors are seeing the park at different times of the year. More are visiting during March, April and May, park officials said.
Summertime remains hectic, though, with this past July the busiest in park history.
Park officials are studying tourism patterns and how other parks are handling more visitors, said Grand Teton Superintendent Chip Jenkins.
“The visitor experience is a resource, just like moose or clean air, and it’s something we are actively working to preserve and protect,” Jenkins said.
Yellowstone officials announced earlier that the park just north of Grand Teton got almost 4.5 million recreation visits through September. This is the first year Yellowstone has seen more than 4 million visitors.
Yellowstone had just under 4 million visits in 2016. Visits to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton were down somewhat in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a related development, Wildlife managers intentionally killed a grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park they said had become a safety risk after it got used to getting food from humans.
Last fall, the grizzly got food at a home south of the park. This fall, the bear got food from humans again, and caused property damage, on private land near the park, park officials said in a statement Tuesday.
The bear fed on chicken feed and garbage numerous times in September and October. Then it became bolder and managed to break into a bear-resistant dumpster in the park.
Park officials working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wyoming Game and Fish Department captured and killed the bear Saturday.
Grizzlies in the Yellowstone region, which includes Grand Teton and other areas surrounding Yellowstone National Park, have rebounded from about 100 in the 1970s to around 700 today. They remain federally protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Wyoming officials seek to have grizzlies removed from such protection in the state.