Yellowstone National Park visitors who try to get around the park’s temporary entrance system could find themselves without a vehicle, according to park Superintendent Cam Sholly.
Some commenters on social media have suggested exchanging license plates so they can get into the park on certain days, but Sholly told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday that cars found equipped with the license plates of other vehicles will be impounded.
Yellowstone’s southern loop reopened Wednesday after being closed for more than a week by flooding. However, the park’s northern loop remains closed and to limit the visitor impact on the park’s southern loop, the park has adopted a new system basing entry to the park on the last digit of a vehicle’s license plate.
Under the new system, vehicles with license plates that end with even numbers may enter on even-numbered days of the month, while cars with odd-numbered plates can enter on odd-numbered days.
But using someone else’s license plate to game the system is not a good strategy, Sholly said.
“It’s against the law to put a wrong license plate on a vehicle,” he told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. “If we find it, you’ll get a ticket and your car will be impounded.”
Sholly was reacting to reports of license plate trading on different unofficial Yellowstone Facebook pages.
On one such page, an individual named Blaise Dowe asked to “borrow” an even-numbered license plate to allow him in on Wednesday.
“Can anyone let me borrow their license plate ending with an even number for Wed?” he asked.
Another user, Joseph Williams, was happy to oblige for the right price.
“I got you for 100 bucks a day,” Williams wrote “But you gotta bring it back so I can use it Thursday.”
“That sounds like a deal,” Dowe responded.
The conversation was shut down later in the day as an administrator no longer accepted comments on the issue.
When contacted on Thursday morning, both Dowe and Williams said the license plate exchange never occurred and the conversation was a joke.
Regardless, it irritated Sholly.
“We’ll hope that people are honest and follow the rules, but we’ll deal with those exceptions when we have to,” he said.
Outside of the park, the Wyoming Department of Transportation advised against license plate exchanges as well.
Although impoundment wasn’t listed as a penalty, it might as well be, as the license plates will be taken away, removing the vehicle’s legal ability to travel public roads.
In either case, the motorist is stuck.
“The bottom line is that driving with a license plate that doesn’t match the vehicle’s registration is against the law,” WYDOT spokesman Mark Horan told Cowboy State Daily.
Horan said on top of a minimum $100 fine, the penalty is likely to include a mandatory court appearance.