In a joint teleconference, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly and Grand Teton National Park Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail announced plans for a phased re-opening of both Parks to begin at 12pm Monday May 18th. This limited opening allows Yellowstone and Grand Teton staff the ability to refine Covid mitigation practices. Governor Mark Gordon of Wyoming requested the earliest possible opening date for the Wyoming entrances to the Park after lifting a mandatory 14 day quarantine for out of state visitors on May 8th.
Even though approximately 90% of Yellowstone Park lies with in the Wyoming state borders, 75% of the Park’s visitors enter via the Montana entrance stations (West Yellowstone, Gardiner). It is not anticipated that the Montana and Idaho entrances will remain closed for very much longer past May 18th, but it depends on state Health Ordinances of each individual state.
Yellowstone National Park has a “good supply” of Personal Protective Equipment (face masks, gloves) for staff. Teton and Park Counties in Wyoming will receive additional funding for PPE from the state of Wyoming with federal support. Public has to be responsible – NP officials ask sick visitors to stay home. Visitors must their have own facial coverings. Fees will be collected at gates. Masks will be required in public facilities, the number of visitors will be metered inside of buildings, and additional cleaning measures for restrooms will be implemented.
Yellowstone Fishing season will open as originally planned on Saturday May 23rd, but guided fishing trips in Yellowstone National Park will not be allowed until Phase 2 of the plan begins.
Yellowstone National Park
Phase 1– Monday May 18th 12pm open South Entrance & East Entrance (Wyoming entrances) – visitation limited to Lower Loop only. Day use only
25% of staff hired (~1000 employees), social distancing at housing facilities was the biggest determining factor
Restrooms, trails & boardwalks, gas stations, and 2 of 3 Medical clinics will be open
No overnight accommodations, No commercial tour buses
Phase 2(last well into June) – Limited Visitor Centers and campgrounds will be opened along with Visitor Cabins and a few stores. Backcountry permits will be sold. Takeout food service will be offered.
Additional tours including Boating and Fishing will be allowed in Phase 2 (late May/early June)
Phase 3– full commercial lodging and restaurants. States and CDC have to lift restrictions on large gatherings & public health officials have to give the shared housing the green light
Grand Teton National Park
- Primary road access (Teton Park Road, Moose-Wilson Road and North Park Road)
- Public restrooms in some areas
- Day-use hiking on seasonally-accessible trails
- Riverbank and lakeshore fishing
- Multi-use pathway system (where free from snow)
- Several viewpoints continue to be accessible along US Highway 89/26/191
- Park visitor centers
- Overnight lodging
- Food service
- Boating/floating on river and lakes
- Backcountry permits
- Special-use permits
- No tour buses
Phase 2– Visitor cabins, river and lake access, secondary road access, lodging, backcountry
Phase 3– Summer modified services- increased commercial tourism. Jackson and Jenny Lake Lodges to remain closed for the season