A fairly uneventful summer ended with lots of drama and snow, as most gates to Yellowstone National Park were closed for the 2013 summer season today at 8 a.m.
While much of the spring and summer was on the quiet side — no big events, no drama — October changed all that, with the U.S. government shutdown closing the gates for three weeks and causing travel havoc for fall-season travelers. While October is traditionally a slower month when it comes to Yellowstone visitors, the shutdown proved to be unpopular with the public and harmful to local businesses.
And, following in that drama, the last week of the season saw a power outage across the entire Park, followed by temporary road closures yesterday due to snow.
There is a portion of Yellowstone that remains open year-round: the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance remains open, allowing access to Silver Gate and Cooke City. Yes, you do need to pay Park admissions to drive this route, even in the winter. However, note that in honor of all past and current members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the National Park Service is waiving all entrance fees during the Veteran’s Day weekend, November 9-11. Free admission is offered to all visitors, not just to veterans or military personnel.
Yellowstone has a long and proud association with our nation’s military. After struggling for years with limited staff and budget in an effort to thwart souvenir hunters and poachers in Yellowstone’s early years, the U.S. Army was called upon to protect the park in 1886.
During the 32 years the U.S. Army was present in the park, it set the tone for conservation and protection of special places like Yellowstone, which still guides National Park Service to this day. Among the most visible reminders of the military presence in the Park are the stone and tile roofed structures of historic Fort Yellowstone in Mammoth Hot Springs, which are still used by the Park for administration and residences. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the fort all year long.