Some basic Yellowstone services are being restored this weekend, as the National Park Service diverts revenue from recreation fees to fund services like picking up trash, cleaning restrooms and restoring law-enforcement officers to busy areas.
Since the government shutdown began on December 22, concessionaires and local businesses volunteered time and money to maintain basic Yellowstone services, including the grooming of roads within the Park and bringing toilet paper to pit toilets and restrooms. While there’s been a definite impact of the government shutdown in warmer-weather climes, there’s been less of an impact in Yellowstone: most of the Park is closed to motorized traffic, with concessionaires continuing to offer lodging, tours and food service. Access to Cooke City has been maintained between the North Entrance to the Northeast Entrance at Cooke City, Montana, and guided snowmobile and snowcoach trips with commercial operators continue. (The only change: Previously permitted non-commercially guided snowmobile trips are also allowed, but new permits are not being issued. In addition, park staff has been providing emergency services and law enforcement. All park regulations, including those regarding oversnow travel, are in effect as normal.
With the reallocation of funds, the basic Yellowstone services being reinstated include trash collection and bathroom cleaning, staffed entrance stations (all except Northeast) and the Madison Warming Hut, and snow removal at Canyon overlooks. Workers at the entrance stations will not be collecting any entrance fees, but are there to provide safety information for visitors.
And there are still closures to note. All administrative offices are closed until the government reopens, and the park website and social media sites are not being maintained. However, reservations at facilities maintained by concessionaires (such as Xanterra reservations) are unaffected.
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Photo by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.