Despite a partial U.S. government shutdown, Yellowstone remains open during this holiday season, with concessionaires picking up the slack and funding some essential services for the time being.
We know Christmas at Yellowstone is a big deal, as the Old Faithful Snow Lodge is humming from visitors from far and wide to celebrate the holidays. The partial shutdown, announced Friday, will certainly be in effect through the Christmas break and possibly into the New Year, but as of now Yellowstone remains open. This was expected, and National Park Service officials were prepping for such an occurrence.
Still, there will be changes in how Yellowstone National Park is run during the shutdown–but most visitors should not be affected. Here’s the current situation:
- No road closures are planned. The only open road this time of year runs between the North Entrance and Cooke City, and that road will remain open to wheeled vehicle traffic. This road serves Mammoth Hot Springs, which is open. (On a limited basis, that is: the hotel is undergoing an offseason renovation and was slated to be closed this winter.) Xanterra will continue its regular transportation services between Mammoth and Old Faithful on regular schedules.
- All government-run operations and facilities, including the OldFaithful Visitor Center, are closed. Entrance stations will not be staffed.
- Concessionaires providing oversnow travel within the Park (for instance, between West Yellowstone and Old Faithful) will not be affected. In fact, the concessionaires are currently providing funding for road grooming so that oversnow access to the interior is possible. That also includes guided snowmobile and snowcoach trips with commercial operators.
- The Old Faithful Snow Lodge remains open with full winter services, as are the in-park restaurants and gift shops at Old Faithful and Mammoth.
- Xanterra’s interpretive tours and activities will continue to operate, but some tours/activities may be modified or canceled based on road and weather conditions.
- Because we are in a partial shutdown, Park staff will provide emergency services and law enforcement. All Park regulations, including those regarding oversnow travel, are in effect as normal.
- All administrative offices will be closed until the government reopens.
Similarly, Grand Teton National Park remains open, with entrance stations not staffed.
As noted, this applies to the current shutdown situation. If the shutdown is prolonged, you may see some changes in Yellowstone, including more cutbacks in services apart from the concessionaires.