By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Three of the four entrances into Yellowstone National Park, including all of those from Wyoming, will close beginning Monday for winterization reasons.
The west, south and east entrances and all roads in the park, with one exception, will close to vehicle travel at 8 a.m. Monday. This is an annual closure to allow park staff to prepare the roads for the winter season and snowmobile and snowcoach travel, which begins Dec. 15.
The park’s north entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs to the park’s northeast entrance and the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, remains open all year, weather permitting.
However, travel east of Cooke City isn’t possible from late fall to spring because the Beartooth Highway between Cooke City and Pilot Creek is closed to vehicle travel.
Officials from Yellowstone National Park did not return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Thursday.
These road closures come after a massively successful summer and fall for the park. Yellowstone saw its busiest September in recorded history this year, a 21% increase in visitation over September 2019.
The park was closed from March 24 until May 18 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The two Wyoming entrances opened in May and the Montana entrances opened in June.
Yellowstone saw its second-busiest August on record this year, as well. It should be noted that monthly records have only been kept since 1979.
In addition to the surge in visitors on September, the park also saw an increase in coronavirus cases among park staff. Last month, 16 Yellowstone employees, 0.8% of the entire personnel at the park, tested positive for the coronavirus.
Temporary travel restrictions or closures in the park can occur at anytime, so visitors are encouraged to keep track of updates on the park’s website.