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Albright Visitor Center

Happier News from Yellowstone: Albright Visitor Center Renovations

Yeah, we know it’s been a lot of doom and gloom here with the Yellowstone shutdown, but here’s some news that should brighten your day: The Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth Hot Springs is scheduled for renovations next summer.

The Albright Visitor Center currently is not one of the most inviting venues in Yellowstone National Park, and as other new visitor centers came online in Canyon and Old Faithful, it certainly was looking a little frumpy. And crowded. The historic building was not designed as a visitor center: The facility was originally built as bachelor officer’s quarters by the United States Army in 1909. Named after Horace Albright, an early Yellowstone superintendent and the second Director for the National Park Service, the building had been through a variety of uses before officially becoming the Albright Visitor Center in 1979. Since then, it’s been a functional, yet hardly inviting intro to Yellowstone at a busy tourist area.

So the plan is to upgrade the facility while retrofitting it to defend against damage due to seismic activity; along the way, visitors will also enjoy better accessibility to the building. The seismic retrofit requires the installation of a steel frame inside the structure and attaching the frame to the stonework.

In addition to the structural changes, the exhibits will also be receiving a makeover.  While each visitor center throughout the park has a specific focus, this visitor center will feature exhibits on park history and the Northern Range area of Yellowstone, with its diverse and abundant wildlife. A new and dynamic orientation area with interactive displays will offer enhanced trip planning information for visitors. Rounding out the services that will be available in the renovated facility is a backcountry permit office where hikers can obtain permits and up to date information for backcountry trip planning. The park’s nonprofit cooperating association, the Yellowstone Association, will operate a bookstore in which visitors will find a variety of educational materials about Yellowstone and the surrounding region.

Swank Enterprises, which also completed the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center and the Mammoth Justice Center, plans to complete the project by spring of 2015. The projected opening date for the new visitor center is the summer of 2015. During the project, the visitor center operations will be relocated into a temporary building located nearby.  All visitor services, including the Yellowstone Association store, will continue in the temporary location.

Image via flickr.com.

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