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Possible Record-Setting Crowds In Yellowstone

Tourists fill the bleachers at Old Faithful waiting for the geyser to erupt.
YellowstoneNPS (PD)

Yellowstone National Park is on track to have one of its highest visitation years on record.

Park officials say more than 2.7 million people have visited the park so far this year. That's up six percent over the same period last year.

Gardiner-area business owner, Peggy Hoppe, says it's been a very busy summer.

The Hoppe's run North Yellowstone Vacation Rentals, offering one-room cabins on a working ranch near Yellowstone's north entrance:

"We're two miles from the town itself. We sit up above Gardiner and we live on Jardine Road. When we go into Gardiner, we go onto (Highway) 89 and it's busy. It sometimes takes 5 minutes to get out on the road. It's a blessing one way because there's people here spending their money and keeping us all going and yet it's kind of a pain trying to get out and do your own chores. "

Hoppe believes several factors explain Yellowstone's visitation bump, including steady gas prices and some scary international headlines:

"Terrorism. I have a lot of visitors that come to the United States that come from other countries and they come here because it's safer here. They don't want to take their families in other places in Europe and Asia and it's because they're afraid of terrorism. "

She adds more Americans are showing interest in learning about their own country.

The National Park Service says almost 2.2 million people visited northwest Montana's Glacier National Park last year.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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