Visitor Use Study (2018)

In 2018, researchers conducted a study on behalf of the National Park Service to explore how people experience and move through the park in real time and how their experiences vary across the summer season (May-September). Surveys were conducted in person at various attraction sites and via digital tablets distributed to a random sample of park visitors. Researchers set up “geofences” around various areas in the park that triggered a survey on the digital tablet as the visitor passed through that location. Surveys were conducted May 19-26, June 9-16, July 7-14, August 18-25, and September 15-22 in 2018.

Key Findings

Researchers summarized key findings from the study:

  • Visitors to Yellowstone almost always rated their trip good to excellent.
  • Respondents were more likely to experience a greater sense of crowding, traffic congestion, and parking availability at Midway Geyser Basin and Fairy Falls.
  • Of the more popular attraction sites in the park, respondents rated Old Faithful and Canyon Village the least problematic, likely due to sufficient infrastructure to support a high volume of visitors.
  • Visitor experience and frustration ratings appear to have little to no significant correlation with GPS-based average speeds across road segments in the park. Respondents are generally not frustrated, have high experience ratings, and do not perceive major problems on roadways.
  • First-time visitors and were less critical of issues at specific sites compared to repeat visitors.
  • The more days respondents spent in the park on their trip, the more likely they were to provide less favorable evaluations of visitor behavior.


Executive Summary (2.5Mb PDF file)
Full Report (7.3Mb PDF file)

Last updated: November 7, 2019

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