JACKSON — It’s midsummer in Jackson Hole and bumper-to-bumper traffic on Broadway, Snow King Avenue and Highway 22 has felt worse than ever before.
Lines for a morning bagel look more ridiculous, grocery store parking lots and trailheads are reliably more packed. An impromptu dinner out on the town has been undeniably harder to execute.
Those aren’t just exasperated gripes from cantankerous locals who want the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s splendors for themselves. Real data shows that summer 2021 has been way busier than any other time in the last five years, a period that was the busiest in the history of Jackson Hole.
A Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board-funded service that tracks numbers of tourists in town limits based on cellphone data shows that there have been 50,000-plus visitors every day so far in July. Those numbers represent large leaps over any other time on record, as much as 50-percent daily increases.
“People feel it,” said Brian Modena, a marketing professional who recently came off the tourism board. “I tried to take my son the other day to go get ice cream on a Tuesday. Moo’s was closed from having no staff, and the Haagen-Dazs line was over an hour long.”
“You’ve got to ask yourself: ‘Is it worth living in a place where you can’t even get ice cream with your kids?’ ” he said.
Former Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce Director Suzanne Young said it’s hard to believe there was an era when people like herself were actually trying to attract more people to northwest Wyoming. The quality of life for residents during peak summer, she said, has clearly taken a hit.
“Now, it’s overwhelming,” said Young, who anticipates having to move away soon, after a 41-year run, due to the cost of living. “I just don’t go anywhere in a car after 4 o’clock. When I go to the supermarket, the items I go to get are often gone if I don’t go early in the day.”
The estimates of visitors to the town of Jackson are produced by a firm called Placer.ai, which uses an algorithm that builds off numbers of cellphones detected in an area daily. While the numbers may not be perfect, Modena said the comparison to previous years is an accurate depiction of growth in tourist numbers.