There will be minimal services available if the Park does open (you can see a full list of 2011 opening and closing dates here), closed if the government shuts down.
Congress and President Obama are working on a budget deal that would keep the government running past Friday’s deadline, though it faces strong opposition from Congressional Republicans who want to see deeper cuts in the federal budget. If the shutdown happens Friday, there will be many ramifications rippling through the United States government, and one such ramification will be the immediate shutdown of Yellowstone National Park.
“We remain hopeful that there will not be a government shutdown,” said Kendra Barkoff, Deputy Communications Director/Press Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior, via email. “However, as President Obama stated, in the unfortunate event there is a shutdown, the National Park System will be closed.”
The specifics are still being worked out. We asked about whether the road between Mammoth and Cooke City would be closed and received the following:
“Visitors and potential visitors to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands should be advised that, in the event of a government shutdown, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management will close and secure park, refuge and visitor facilities on public lands.
“Visitor activities that require a permit, including public events, will not be allowed or will be cancelled or postponed. Visitor centers will be closed and access to park areas denied, including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Independence Hall, Alcatraz, and the Washington Monument. Visitors using overnight concession accommodations and campgrounds will be notified and given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements. The National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and some Bureau of Land Management roads will be closed except when they are necessary as thruways.
“Limited personnel needed to protect life and property on public lands, such as law enforcement, emergency services and firefighting personnel, will be exempted from furlough. Some administrative offices for the bureaus will be minimally staffed and many will be closed. Ordinary business of these bureaus will be extremely curtailed.
“The land management agencies will be providing additional information to the public as they finalize their contingency plans.”
It would not be the first time Yellowstone has shut down in the midst of a government shutdown. And in terms of timing, it wouldn’t make that huge an impact: the middle of April isn’t exactly a busy time in the Park, with most of the visitors not showing up until May, June, July and August. Still, there are many who make plans to hit the Park the moment it opens. If you’re traveling from afar, you may want to check on the status of the government before heading to Yellowstone.