Yellowstone National Park, along with other national parks and monuments, has reopened following the government shutdown over the weekend.
The shutdown started January 19, 2018. During that time, the majority of National Park Service employees were furloughed and facilities closed. In Yellowstone’s case, all government facilities (e.g. visitor centers) were closed, and limited staff was on hand to provide essential services like law enforcement and emergency response.
In spite of the shutdown and decrease in staff, people were still permitted to visit Yellowstone. This stands in contrast to Yellowstone’s policy during the 2013 government shutdown, when gates were closed and people were asked to leave the park.
Indeed, commercial operators and concessionaires like Xanterra Parks & Resorts were permitted to continue running. People were also permitted to drive or take oversnow vehicles through the park, although concessioners had to pay for road grooming.
In the event of an emergency, all travel would have been prohibited into Yellowstone.
Conservation groups criticized the Department of the Interior’s decision to keep national parks open, saying it endangered public and park safety. Sunday, a commercial snowmobile guide was cited for driving too close to Old Faithful Geyser—one of a handful of illegal incidents that occurred across the national park system during the government shutdown.
As with the 2013 government shutdown, which lasted two weeks, Yellowstone ceased updating its website and social media accounts; the public affairs office was also closed.