January 20, 2018--Wyoming--In today's early-morning hours, officials announced the federal government was in a shutdown, which includes closure and/or limited services of federal sites, parks and landmarks throughout Wyoming due to lawmakers in Washington D.C. not being able to resolve the budget.
In Wyoming, the federal government shutdown will impact national parks, national recreation areas and natural historic sites, particularly when it comes to access, services, emergency personnel and ranger-led tours. While the shutdown is closing some national parks, recreation areas and historic sites (and affiliated visitor centers, restrooms, etc.), access to some national parks, including Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, will remain open.
Yellowstone National Park: Entrance gates will be open, but not staffed. Government-run operations and facilities will be closed as soon as Saturday morning, January 20, while visitors will be able to access the road from Gardiner to the northeast entrance and all the commercial services along the route. Visitors will also be able to access commercial services in the interior of the park (e.g. at Old Faithful) only as long as concessioners provide funds for road grooming. All park regulations, including those regarding oversnow travel, still apply. Guided snowmobiling trips with commercial operators will be allowed. Non-commercially guided snowmobile trips will not be allowed during the shutdown. If conditions become unsafe at any time, roads and/or developed areas in the park will be closed. The park will provide limited emergency services.
In-park lodging, operated by Yellowstone National Park Lodges and including Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, will remain open, while in-park restaurants and gift shops will open as regularly scheduled. Transportation services between Mammoth and Old Faithful will remain operating as usual on their regular schedules, while tours and activities may be modified based on road and weather conditions. For the most current information on services offered by Yellowstone National Park Lodges, visit www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com.
Grand Teton National Park: Entrance gates will be open, but not staffed and visitors will be able to access the park with limited-to-no visitor services available. At the current time, backcountry and park accessibility remains open in Grand Teton National Park, Highway 89 will continue to be plowed and grooming on the park's Teton Park Road will continue for ski access through a park partner, Grand Teton National Park Foundation. Ranger-led snowshoe hikes are not available.
Access to Yellowstone National Park's south entrance will continue, including staging and winter services that are currently available at Headwaters Lodge at Flagg Ranch.
In addition, government-operated facilities will close. Park roads that are open will remain open if they are essential to respond to emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection or property; this includes most roads that are normally maintained open at this time of year. Access to all residences will be maintained, while concessioners and commercial-use authorization holders may continue to provide visitor series after coordination with the park to ensure compliance with government shutdown protocols. National park websites and social media will not be maintained. Emergency response will be available, but limited with the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center available from 6 a.m. - 10 p.m. daily (Teton County Dispatch will continue to answer emergency calls, as usual, outside those hours).
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area: All park facilities (restrooms, visitor centers, etc.) are closed, while visitors will still have access to be in the recreation areas and use trails and fish on the area's waterway.
Devils Tower National Monument: Access is unavailable.
Fossil Butte National Monument: Facilities will be closed; visitor access to trails remains open.
Fort Laramie National Historic Site: All fenced facilities will be closed, while the Confluence Trail along the North Platte River is open.
National Elk Refuge: Sleigh ride tours on the National Elk Refuge through Double H Bar will continue as previously scheduled. The Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center is closed and visitors are encouraged to stop into the Home Ranch Welcome Center in Jackson, located at 210 N. Cache Street, for sleigh ride tickets and shuttle services. Sleigh ride attendees are advised to park at the Jackson Hole & Great Yellowstone Visitor Center and walk the two blocks south to the Home Ranch Welcome Center.
U.S.F.S.: Access is not restricted on U.S.F.S. land, but services will be unavailable with the exception of limited emergency services. Offices will be closed, while licensed guides will continue to operate guided snowmobile trips on public federal lands.
Visitors to all of Wyoming's national parks, historic sites and recreation areas are advised and encouraged to practice caution and follow all safety protocol on national public lands, as emergency services are limited as part of the shutdown.
Authorized and licensed guides with special use permits and commercial-use authorization holders will continue to operate on federal lands, including U.S.F.S. land, and will continue previously scheduled tours as planned. Visitors are encouraged to contact those individual businesses for the most current information on their scheduled tour.
While federal sites are affected by the shutdown, there are abundant options for travelers who have trips planned into affected national parks, historic sites, etc.,
Togwotee Pass remains open as many of the groomed trails are on state lands. Visitor activities in Dubois and Lander include guided snowmobiling, the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center and Sinks Canyon State Park. Learn more: https://windriver.org.
Wyoming State Parks remain open and unaffected, with abundant recreation options at Boysen State Park near Riverton and Lander, Hot Spring State Park in Thermopolis, Buffalo Bill State Park in Cody, Glendo State Park near Laramie, Keyhole State Park in Moorcroft, Curt Gowdy State Park near Laramie and Bear River State Park in Evanston, with parks offering ice fishing (with valid fishing license), hiking, natural hot springs, fat tire biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and sledding. For more information, visit http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/.
On the eastern side of Yellowstone National Park, Cody has an array of visitor offerings, including the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, while nearby Thermopolis is home to Hot Springs State Park, soaking pools and the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. For more info,visit www.codyyellowstone.org and www.thermopolis.com.
In western and northwest Wyoming, visitors can ski and snowboard at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Grand Targhee, Snow King and White Pine Ski Area. Scenic drives are also available on the Star Valley Scenic Byway. For additional information, visit www.jacksonholechamber.com and ww.visitpinedale.org..