As the nation emerges from the global pandemic’s travel restrictions, summer crowds are headed to Yellowstone National Park.

CANYON VILLAGE, Wyo. — Yellowstone National Park is experiencing record numbers of visitors this summer, and park officials are offering tips to help families plan for an unforgettable and safe vacation.

On Memorial Day weekend, more than 43,000 people entered the park, a 50% increase from the same time period the year before the pandemic’s travel restrictions.

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Park spokesperson Linda Veress said people should be sure they have a plan for where they will sleep at night because most lodging and campgrounds will be full. She also encouraged all visitors to give the park’s wildlife plenty of space.

“It’s important to remember to stay at least 100 yards away from all bears and wolves,” Veress said, “and 25 yards away from all other animals.”

If there is a bear close to the road, Veress said to stay inside your vehicle. That’s safest for both you and the bear. If you come upon what looks like a peacefully lounging elk or bison, back away.

Veress said wild animals can change their moods very quickly if they feel threatened, and she noted bison can reach charging speeds of 35 miles an hour.

When posting photos to social media accounts, Veress encouraged visitors to be sure they are doing what they should be doing. When taking selfies, don’t go off trail, and never venture away from boardwalks at thermal sites.

“Other people seeing these photos might think that it’s OK to do, but it’s not,” Veress said. “So we’d like people to highlight positive behavior and people doing the right things.”

Veress said be sure to give yourself plenty of time to tour the nearly 3,500 square-mile park, and drive safely. Roads can become congested quickly at wildlife sightings, and construction areas.

Still, Veress said there are ways to avoid the largest crowds.

“Some of the very busy areas, like Old Faithful or Canyon Village, it’s very busy during the middle parts of the day,” Veress said. “So just try maybe to get out to these busy locations early in the morning, or late in the evening.”

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