(KPAX) Yellowstone National Park will open its Montana entrances at 10 a.m. on Monday, June 1, park officials announced Thursday.
The opening entrances include the West Entrance near West Yellowstone, the North Entrance near Gardiner and the Northeast Entrance near Cooke City.
The opening of these entrances coincides with Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s decision to move the state into phase two of its reopening on June 1.
The park’s Wyoming entrances reopened on May 18.
On June 1, in line with the park’s three-phased reopening plan , visitors will be able to access Phase 1 services/facilities- including restrooms, self-service gas stations, trails/boardwalks, limited stores, entrance stations, medical clinics, approved tours- and a few services/facilities as outlined in Phase 2, including takeout food service, boating, and fishing.
The park has implemented significant mitigation efforts including: providing additional protective barriers where needed, encouraging the use of masks or facial coverings in high density areas, metering visitor access in certain locations, increasing cleaning frequency of facilities, adding signage on boardwalks and other public spaces, and messaging to visitors through a variety of methods.
Substantial investments have been made in mitigation measures by the park’s business partners including Xanterra, Delaware North, Yellowstone Park Service Stations, Medcor, and Yellowstone Forever. To date, the park has also approved 126 commercial use authorizations (CUAs) for local businesses to operate inside the park after reviewing individual COVID-19 mitigation plans submitted by each company.
Yellowstone is partnering with surrounding states, counties, and businesses (like Medcor, the company that runs the in-park clinics) to increase testing capacity. In addition to building capacity to test people with COVID-19 symptoms, the park has agreed to participate in a COVID-19 surveillance testing pilot project. Park County, Montana health officials have begun testing frontline employees and partners with 50 tests this week (viral, not antibody tests). Surveillance testing helps to identify COVID-19 transmission early and allows mitigation actions to be taken before a widespread outbreak occurs.
Visitors should come prepared and follow all CDC and local health guidance by practicing good hygiene and social distancing. Face coverings are recommended where social distancing is not possible. People who are sick should stay home and not visit the park. The CDC has provided specific guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities [cdc.gov] . The National Park Service encourages visitors to #RecreateResponsibly [nps.gov] . Photos and posters showing responsible recreation and mitigation measures are available on the park’s Flickr page [flickr.com] .
Previously-scheduled road construction [nps.gov] projects will continue this summer. Normal annual bear management area [nps.gov] closures are in effect. Winter conditions are still possible at this time of year. The park will provide details and updates for operations as they change on www.nps.gov/yell [nps.gov] and on the park’s social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus [nps.gov] .