By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
After almost two months, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks will start opening to the public in phases beginning Monday.
“I want to thank both of these National Park Superintendents for their collaborative and cooperative, phased approach to safely reopen these iconic destinations to visitors,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a news release Tuesday. “Their direct and consistent communication with interested parties has resulted in plans that will help protect employees, visitors and neighboring communities.”
The decision to reopen both parks to in phases was reached after numerous conversations involving governors of nearby states, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly, Grand Teton National Park Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail and local officials.
Gordon and park officials contacted officials in Park, Fremont and Teton counties, and all expressed support for the opening strategy
“These targeted reopenings will provide valuable experience as we look ahead to expanding operations in both parks,” Gordon said. “They will also help reawaken Wyoming’s tourism industry and help get America’s economy up and going again.”
Phase one of Yellowstone’s reopening will begin Monday with the opening of the South and East entrances in Wyoming only. Visitors will be able to access the lower loop of the Grand Loop Road, as well as restrooms, self-service gas stations, trails and boardwalks. Yellowstone has also released a detailed, three-phase COVID-19 Reopening Plan.
“I commend Gov. Gordon for his leadership and partnership as we’ve developed this plan to reopen,” Sholly said in a news release. “Reopening is not something we can do alone and the governor’s actions and support have been greatly appreciated during this challenging period.”
In Grand Teton National Park, primary road access on the Teton Park Road, Moose-Wilson Road and North Park Road will be available. In addition, public restrooms will be open and day hiking on seasonally-accessible trails will be allowed.
Neither park will offer overnight lodging or food service, and visitor centers will remain closed.
“I extend my sincere appreciation to Gov. Gordon for the state’s support in working with us to increase access to the national parks while prioritizing everyone’s safety,” Noojibail said. “Grand Teton National Park is part of the iconic Wyoming character that makes the state special, and through our cooperative partnerships we will continue to provide a safe visitor experience for all.”
“This is really good news,” Gordon said of the announcement. “But it is important for the public to follow local-area health guidance, use common sense, practice good hygiene principles, maintain social distancing and avoid crowding. Only you can prevent the spread of COVID.”