And the record-breaking numbers just keep on coming. Even as slower seasons approach, planning ahead is highly recommended.

The National Park Service released August, 2021, visitation numbers for Yellowstone National Park, and they continue to shatter monthly records.

Is it the draw of breathtaking scenery and feeling safer health-wise when you're spending more of your vacation time outdoors? Is it a TV show bearing the park's name that's gaining popularity to add to the mystique? Is it because you want to be there when some goofy tourist decides to put a baby bear in their SUV because they thought it was scared and lonely?

Whatever the reasons (maybe all of the above and more?), tourists continue to pour into national parks. Yellowstone National Park hosted 921,844 recreation visits in August 2021, making it the most-visited August on record. This is a 4.5% increase from August 2020 (881,829 recreation visits) and a 12% increase from August 2019 (820,006 recreation visits). Remember, 2019 numbers are used more than 2020 numbers for comparisons, since the park was dealing with closures due to COVID for part of the season.  Fun fact: Previously, the busiest August on record was in 2017 (remember the solar eclipse?), with 916,166 visits.

As another example of the impact the 2020 closures had, so far in 2021, the park has hosted 3,590,904 recreation visits, up 40% from the same period last year and up 15% from 2019.

The National Park Service predicts that even early fall visits will be higher than average, in part because some tourists originally thinking July or August could not get the reservations they wanted and are willing to give it another shot a bit later in the year.  So, If you plan to travel to Yellowstone this autumn, plan ahead, expect crowding and recreate responsibly to protect yourself and the park. A good starting point for staying informed about changes to park operations and services is right here.

And HEY!!! You put that bear back right now!

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.