National Parks/Wildlife Jams

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Traffic near Midway Geyser Basin in July

The biggest problem of modern tourism is that tourists look for the intact, idyllic nature and - by visiting - destroy it.

  1. Read the texts below.
    1. What causes the delays and traffic jams?
    2. What effects does this have on visiting tourists?
  2. There are some interactive exercises at the bottom of the page. Can you do them correctly?

When visitors roaming Yellowstone National Park in cars see a grizzly bear and her cubs, or a herd of bison, they stop. And so do the cars behind them, every window open as cameras lurch to get that perfect shot. The National Park Service (NPS) calls these stoppages "wildlife jams," and a new NPS report reveals each one results in a 30- to 120-minute traffic backup.

The study, one of two released Thursday, examines the way swelling crowds, especially during peak season, threaten not only the environment, but the visitor experience, and come to a bleak conclusion: In July, the roadways near popular attractions such as Old Faithful are 29 percent over capacity, and if action isn't taken, the entire park could hit its traffic capacity in just four to six years. If nothing changes, and visitor numbers increase with current year-over-year trends, it could lead to backups at popular sites and unsustainable degradation to the road system and the natural environment.

Visitors echo the traffic worry, too. Two-thirds of Yellowstone's visitors during 2016 said finding parking was a problem, and over half said traffic and congestion were problematic. The studies found that drivers spend their time closely behind other vehicles 60 to 80 percent of their time; not exactly the "getting in touch with nature" experience many expect.
Yellowstone National Park's Traffic Problem Might Force Big Changes (, August 11, 2017)

Interactive exercises

Put in the correct forms of the words in brackets. Sometimes you have to add a word.

I will say that parking lots can be crowded can, crowd) midday at the more popular attractions that time of year. As already said, the early bird is definitely rewarded with parking spaces and wildlife viewing! Tour buses tend to arrive at the various major attractions between 9 and 5. If you can plan some longer hikes (a mile or more) for midday (the majority of of visitors never venture more than 100 yards from the parking lot) you'll avoid even that problem., and run into just a few folks on most trails. But that all said, we've always been able to park where we needed to - often there are lots or spaces off the roads that are a little further away than the lots nearest the attractions - again, if you are willing to walk a little more than the average visitor, you'll have few problems!

Regarding weather, temps in the 70's and some low 80's are common during the day, but since most of Yellowstone is over 7000 feet, it dips into the low 40's or even 30's at night. And of course, thunderstorms and showers are common in the afternoons! You'll be most happy if you dress in layers of clothing and bring a rain jacket.