From Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend, Montana is a pretty busy place. Hundreds of thousands of folks come here to visit each summer to take in all that we have to offer, buy an overpriced Montana t-shirt, something with huckleberries, and be a part of the whole Montana experience.

For many locally owned businesses in this part of the state, a large portion of their success is based on those tourists' dollars, so when it's a slow year, those folks are going to, unfortunately, suffer.

Let's be real here; Montana has had a tough summer.

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From record flooding to record gas prices, folks here in the western part of the state have certainly had their share of struggle the last few months, and they haven't seen the end of it. Yellowstone National Park has released their numbers for July visitors, and they're certainly a bit alarming.

Yellowstone saw almost 1.1 million visitors to the park in July of 2021.  So, how did this July compare? According to the numbers, 596,562 visitors came through Yellowstone last month.

Photo by Tevin Trinh on Unsplash
Photo by Tevin Trinh on Unsplash
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That's a 45 percent decrease over last year.

Ok, well last year was really the first year out of the pandemic, so it makes total sense why the numbers would be so high, right?  I mean, people were locked in their homes for 2 years, so of course they're going to want to get out and do something.

Well, when you look at July 2019, which was the last summer before the pandemic, Yellowstone had 936,062 visitors, which is 36 percent more than July of this year. So, what's going on?  Is this something to be alarmed about?

Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
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Of course, we already mentioned the record flooding which shut down the entire park for a week, and there's the fact that a portion of the park is still closed, but to see an almost 50 percent drop? Could it be something more than just flooding and high fuel costs? Has Montana lost some of its allure?

For a whole lot of Montanans, they can only hope that's the case.

Credit: NPS.gov

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Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

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To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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