Not as many Yellowstone National Park visitors have been sprayed with mist from Old Faithful as park officials had thought, according to a visitors survey conducted for the National Park Service.
Steve Iobst, the park's management assistant for planning, said that before the survey came out recently, officials thought upwards of 90 percent of Yellowstone's visitors stopped at Old Faithful.However, the study conducted by University of Idaho researchers showed only 78 percent of the park's visitors made their way to the world-famous geyser. The second largest gathering of Yellowstone visitors is at Canyon, where 70 percent of vacationers surveyed last July stopped.
The $7,000 visitors study showed where most of Yellowstone's tourists enter the park, where they go within the park, and where they exit.
The survey, taken during the week of July 12, showed the bulk of Yellowstone's visitors that week entered from the West Entrance through West Yellowstone, Mont. Of the 845 people who responded to the survey, 280 entered through West Yellowstone. The park's actual count showed 16,681 visitors entered Yellowstone through the West Entrance.
Among the other entrances, the actual visitor count showed 13,704 visitors entered through the South Entrance; 8,970 came in via the East Entrance near Cody; 7,254 through the North Entrance at Gardiner, Mont., and 2,459 through the Northeast Entrance at Cooke City, Mont.
Wyoming and Montana saw more of the tourist traffic than did Idaho. Forty-four percent of the visitors who participated in the survey said they traveled from within Wyoming on the day they entered Yellowstone, while 39 percent said they traveled from within Montana.
Just 9 percent of the visitors traveled from Idaho on the day they entered Yellowstone, while just 5 percent traveled from Utah, according to the survey.
When they left the park most of the visitors again headed for either Wyoming (43 percent) or Montana (27 percent), the study showed. Just 11 percent headed for Idaho, while 8 percent went to Utah.
Jackson, to the south of Yellowstone, and Cody, on the park's eastern border, were the most common destination points for vacationers leaving the park.