There are a lot of stakeholders in the discussions over the future of Yellowstone’s winter usage, and unfortunately in some ways it’s a zero-sum game. If, for example, the road from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful were plowed year-round it would be a big plus for car tourists, snowshoe enthusiasts and cross-country skiiers who would receive increased access to Yellowstone. The losers would be snowmobilers and the businesses in West Yellowstone, Cody and Gardiner who cater to them.
That’s why one of the panel discussions, “Winter Use in Yellowstone National Park,” should be fascinating. The members of the panel come from several different perspectives — West Yellowstone and Cody businessmen, National Park Service officials, and advocates for non-motorized winter usage — and each have a valid perspective on the issue. We’re not entirely sure there’s a perfect solution to the planning of the next winter use plan — our sympathies do go out to the NPS staff needing to make very hard decisions — but with snowmobile usage on the decline and economic demand for greater access to Yellowstone during winter, the path is clear.
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.