Yellowstone to open its three Montana entrances on Monday

Posted 5/28/20

Yellowstone National Park will open its Montana entrances — the North Gate near Gardiner, the West Gate near West Yellowstone and the Northeast Entrance near Cooke City — at 10 a.m. …

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Yellowstone to open its three Montana entrances on Monday

Posted

Yellowstone National Park will open its Montana entrances — the North Gate near Gardiner, the West Gate near West Yellowstone and the Northeast Entrance near Cooke City — at 10 a.m. Monday.

“Yellowstone National Park is an incredible place for Americans to enjoy the great outdoors, and the American people having access to their public lands is now more important than ever,” Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a Thursday statement announcing the news. “The park entrances in Wyoming opened about two weeks ago, so it’s great that we’ve been able to work with the governor of Montana to safely restore access to the remaining entrances.”

Yellowstone’s two entrances in Wyoming — the East Gate outside of Cody and the South Gate outside of Jackson — opened on May 18.

Monday’s opening of Montana’s entrances coincides with the expiration of a directive from Gov. Steve Bullock, which required out-of-state travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“I appreciate the partnership with Gov. Bullock, his team, and our surrounding counties and communities,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly. “We will continue working closely together as we progress through this reopening sequence.”

Starting Monday, the entire Grand Loop Road will be accessible (though excluding the under-construction segment between Canyon and Tower); over the last couple of weeks, only the lower portion of the loop has been open to the public.

In line with the park’s three-phased reopening plan, visitors on Monday will also be able to access Phase 1 services/facilities (including restrooms, self-service gas stations, trails/boardwalks, limited stores, entrance stations, medical clinics and approved tours) and a few services/facilities outlined in Phase 2 — including takeout food service, boating and fishing.

However, the park will remain day-use only.

“Campgrounds, visitor centers, and other facilities are still closed until health conditions allow for reopening,” the park service said. Limited overnight accommodations will begin reopening later in June, Yellowstone officials said.

Xanterra operations in Yellowstone National Park, including lodges, campgrounds, dining and tours will begin a phased re-opening on a limited basis starting Monday, June 8, the concessionaire announced.

"The decision to re-open was made after closely monitoring the guidance and recommendations of public health agencies such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) as well as federal, state and local governments," the concessionaire said Monday., adding, "Take out and grab and go food options will be available, and retail shops will be open."

As of last week, the park had approved 126 commercial use authorizations for area businesses to operate inside the park after reviewing individual COVID-19 mitigation plans submitted by each company. Yellowstone officials said the park’s business partners have made “substantial investments in mitigation measures.”

The park itself has been providing additional protective barriers, encouraging the use of masks or facial coverings in high density areas, metering visitor access in certain spots, cleaning facilities more frequently and adding signage on boardwalks and other public spaces as part of messaging efforts.

Yellowstone is also partnering with surrounding states, counties and businesses — like Medcor, the company that runs the medical clinics in the park — to increase testing capacity for the new coronavirus. Park County, Montana health officials have begun testing frontline employees and partners with 50 viral tests in an effort to detect any COVID-19 transmission early on.

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