We’re entering the end run of the 2020 Yellowstone summer season. Services will gradually close throughout the month of October, and visitation will tail off. But we won’t see anything tail off this weekend, as a glorious weather forecast will undoubtedly bring a healthy number of visitors to Yellowstone for one last run.
As noted, we will see services close in the next few weeks. Sunday, Oct. 4, will see the last days for services at Lake Village with the impending closure of the Lake Hotel and Lake Lodge, as well as associated gift shops and restaurants. We’ll also see the impending closure of Old Faithful Lodge as well as associated gift shops and restaurants. If you are planning a visit via the Beartooth Highway, best do it soon: it closes Oct. 12. You can view all the closings here.
The impending fall closure comes on the heel of some sadder Yellowstone news from the National Park Service: an uptick in positive COVID-19 tests from NPS and concessionaire employees. According to a park service press release, 16 of the park’s estimated 2,000 employees, or 0.8 percent, have tested positive for COVID-19 since the first week of September, including seven National Park Service and nine concession employees. Eight of the 16 individuals have recovered, while the other eight individuals are still in recovery. All employees who have tested positive have been isolated per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and county public health guidelines. Contact tracing has occurred with the assistance of Park County, MT, and Park County, WY.
The new positives come after a successful effort to mitigate COVID-19 since a May park opening. The park had four positive employee cases between May 18 and August 30. A contractor also tested positive in June. As a result of the positives, the park has substantially increased employee surveillance testing and has conducted more than 1,100 tests since the first week of September. More than 3,000 tests have been conducted since the park reopened in May.
Photo of Veteran Geyser by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service.