Roughly 4 million people visited the world-renowned park in 2011, according to an early park count, making Yosemite the third most-visited U.S. National Park, after Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains and Arizona’s Grand Canyon.
While final December numbers won’t be tabulated until next week, Yosemite had nearly matched 2010 visitor totals by November, according to spokeswoman Kari Cobb. In 2010, the total visitor count was 4,047,880 — the highest since 1996 when there were 4,190,557 visitors.
“With the weather being so nice and Tioga Road being still open, we think there will be more visitors,” Cobb said. “Our projection is that it will be just as busy, if not more busy (than 2010).”
Yosemite National Park had its two busiest months in park history over the summer — July, with 730,488 visitors, and August, with 724,934.
July and August were “the busiest (months) we’ve ever had, ever,” Cobb said.
The busiest July prior to this year was in 1995 and the busiest August prior to this one was in 1997, Cobb said.
From January to the end of November, the park has had 3,965,969 visitors, Cobb said.
Cobb attributed the increased traffic to the extended waterfall season in Yosemite.
Typically, the peak of waterfall season is at the end of May. This year families with children, who’d traditionally still be in school when the falls dry out, were able to make the trip to see the falls, she said.
Yosemite Fall, a popular visitor attraction, hasn’t gone dry since October 2009.
“It dries up every year. For it to be flowing for over a year continuously is something I’ve never seen before,” Cobb said.
Yosemite first hit the 1 million visitor mark in 1954; 2 million in 1967; 3 million in 1987; and 4 million in 1994, according to the park website.
There were 3.88 million visitors in 2009; 3.6 million in 2008; 3.6 million in 2007; 3.4 million in 2006; and 3.4 million in 2005.
(via Union Democrat)