As temperatures rise and summer nears, Yellowstone National Park is preparing for its summer spike in guests with the phased reopening of roads, which began on Friday, April 16. There are five entrances to the park—the North Entrance in Gardiner, which is open year-round for Cooke City access, the Northeast Entrance, the East Entrance, the South Entrance and the West Entrance.
The first of the plowed roads that reopened on Friday leads from the West Entrance to Old Faithful — one of the most popular attractions in the park. Other roads that have reopened guide tourists from Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful (via Norris) and from Norris to Canyon Village. More roads will begin to reopen during the first two weeks of May, including Sylvan Pass and Craig Pass, and the Beartooth Highway will reopen for the summer season on Friday, May 28.
Construction began at the North Entrance and along the Norris to Canyon Village road, so expect delays and changes in traffic patterns. For more information regarding directions, transportation and construction, visit https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/directions.htm
“To protect the health of those who live, work, and visit national parks and facilities, face masks are required in all visitor facilities in Yellowstone National Park,” said Linda Veress, the spokeswoman at Yellowstone National Park. This requirement is in line with President Biden’s executive order, which protects the federal workforce and requires mask-wearing. “Masks are also required on NPS [National Park Service] -managed lands when physical distancing cannot be maintained, such as hiking trails, overlooks and parking areas,” said Veress.
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 last year, the park closed down from late March until the beginning of May. Montana entrances did not reopen until Monday, June 1. Once the park was fully reopened, tourists flocked in and visitor numbers were far higher than in 2019. By the end of 2020, the park recorded it’s sixth busiest year with around 3.8 million total visitors.
“We are expecting another very busy season and ask that visitors plan ahead, be patient and stay safe,” said Veress. This year, the park’s visitor-centers will remain closed due to COVID-19 precautions and masks will be required in any indoor enclosures. These provisions will help keep the park open for the remainder of the summer season.
Campgrounds and fishing licences are now available online and the park is launching a new automated shuttle pilot this spring to test at low speeds. Some services will be modified or limited to visitors, check the park website at https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htmfor updates.