After requests from local county officials and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Superintendent Cam Sholly announces that Yellowstone National Park is closed indefinitely, as is Grand Teton National Park.
Effective immediately, Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are closed to all park visitors until further notice. State highways and/or roads that transcend park/state boundaries and facilities that support life safety and commerce will remain open. Both parks will cooperate on the implementation of the closures.
Technically, very little of Yellowstone National Park is open anyway, with most of the park inaccessible due to seasonal road closures. Only the North Entrance is open to service travelers between Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City, and that highway won’t close to allow residents in Silver Gate and Cooke City access. The Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs and the Boiling River area have been closed as a precaution to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Closing Yellowstone mainly impacts the wildlife watchers who gather year-round in the Lamar Valley to scout wolves and other wildlife. Many tours catering to wildlife watchers, however, have already shut down because of coronavirus concerns.
We’ve already seen concessionaire Xanterra announce a delay in the openings of its Yellowstone National Park lodges, dining facilities, and stores, through May 21 in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Xanterra is suspending down all public national parks operations. You can read more about Xanterra’s closures and how they might affect you here.
The real decision will be how to handle things as we approach April 17 and the first opening of Yellowstone National Park roads past the northern route, when the West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, and Norris to Canyon Village sections of the Grand Loop road are scheduled to open. All roads throughout the Park are not slated to fully open until May 22, when the Canyon Village to Dunraven Pass/Chittenden Road section opens, as well as the Beartooth Highway connecting Cooke City and Red Lodge. You can view all the 2020 Yellowstone openings and closing here.
The same announcement was made by Grand Teton Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail.
“The National Park Service listened to the concerns from our local partners and, based on current health guidance, temporarily closed the parks,” Sholly and Noojibail wrote in a joint press release. “We are committed to continued close coordination with our state and local partners as we progress through this closure period and are prepared when the timing is right to reopen as quickly and safely as possible.”
Photo shows crews prepping for the closing of the West Gate, March 24, 2020.
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