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Yellowstone visits hit record high in 2021, straining staff

The Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park is viewed on June 19, 2020. (Photo by Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) — A record number of visitors flocked to Yellowstone National Park last year despite fewer hotel rooms and campsites being available because of the coronavirus pandemic and construction projects.

Just over 4.86 million visits were tallied in 2021, breaking the prior record set in 2016.

Known worldwide for its wildlife and thermal features such as the Old Faithful geyser, Yellowstone will mark its 150th anniversary in 2022.

A rush of visitors from May through September last year strained employees and visitor services even as the park was understaffed because of employee housing caps and difficulty recruiting workers.