With the federal shutdown ended (for now, anyway), Yellowstone National Park winter operations are expected to return to normal this week — though many visitors may not notice much of a difference.
While the 35-day federal government shutdown had a major impact on many national parks, with garbage piling up and damage to delicate ecosystems, the impact to Yellowstone National Park winter operations was much more modest. Part of the lack of impact lies in the scaled-back winter operations, with roads closed to outside vehicles and most visitors centers and hotels dormant for the season. But the other part of the lack of impact has to do with local businesses picking up the slack, funding road grooming and providing some essential services. (Xanterra, in particular, spent plenty of money on plowing and grooming to keep Old Faithful Snow Lodge operation running smoothly.) Winter visitors saw no cutback in services, for the most part.
So with the shutdown ended (for now; we’ll know if it resumes in 19 or so days), Yellowstone National Park winter operations are back to normal, with some services resuming today. Here’s the schedule, as posted by National Park Service officials:
- On Sunday, January 27, visitor centers that are normally open at this time of year will reopen by 11:00 a.m. (this includes the Albright Visitor Center, the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, the lobby of the Canyon Visitor Education Center, and the ranger-staffed desk at the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center). As soon as visitor centers open, the public will again be able to obtain backcountry permits.
- The park will resume collecting entrance fees on Sunday, January 27.
- On Monday, January 28 a majority of furloughed staff will return and open the remaining park functions. For example, employees will begin to process the backlog of applications for special use permits, film permits, commercial use authorizations, and research permits. By midday Monday, the public will also be able to obtain permits for the non-commercially-guided snowmobile access program. The public affairs office will reopen on Monday.
- The park asks for patience as employees work to reopen facilities and operations in a manner that is safe for them and the public. There is a lot of snow removal needed around buildings and safety checks that must be completed.
Photo via National Park Service.