Yellowstone National Park logged its first million-visitor month in July, a milestone symbolic of the heavy tourist traffic across the country’s national parks, as visitors travel to wide-open spaces in response to — and in spite of — the surging delta variant of COVID-19.
The National Park Service hasn’t released final numbers, but Superintendent Cam Sholly said approximately 1,080,000 recreational visitors in July made it Yellowstone’s busiest month ever. Neighboring Grand Teton National Park also saw a record month in July, hosting an estimated 828,777 recreational visitors.
Record numbers of tourists are seeking to escape to the outdoors, as COVID outbreaks are surging in hotspots around the country. Warning of the potential for transmission of the virus in crowded visitor centers, the Park Service has implemented a nationwide mask mandate for all parks.
The agency’s mask mandate requires visitors, employees and contractors to wear a mask inside all Park Service buildings, and in crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels.
The requirement also applies to outdoor spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as narrow or busy trails and overlooks, and will be in effect until further notice.