National forest campgrounds saw a 20% increase in use last year in Montana, and they are expecting another boost this year, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
A little more than 66,000 people camped in the Yellowstone, Bozeman and Hebgen ranger districts of the Custer Gallatin National Forest in 2015. That was about 11,000 more people than in 2014, and it was the largest increase in visitation over the last three years.
“People are looking for more inexpensive ways to go recreate,” said Vicki Barta, who runs Yellowstone Country Campgrounds, the company that manages 17 recreational sites in the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
This year is expected to bring even more people to those sites. Many campgrounds throughout the Custer Gallatin are set to open in the next few weeks in areas from Hebgen Lake to Red Lodge, and reservable campsites are already getting snapped up at a higher rate than in years past.
Yellowstone National Park is expecting an increase in visitation due to the centennial of the National Parks Service, and Barta said that will likely trickle down to the campgrounds on the national forest, which are often second or third options for park visitors looking to camp.
“If their numbers are increasing, our numbers increase as well,” Barta said, adding that she expects an increase of about 15% or 20% again this year.
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