As the state of Wyoming continues to slowly reopen after more than two months of COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Mark Gordon is supporting a phased reopening of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks beginning Monday.
In a Wednesday press release announcing the reopenings, Gordon said the leadership of both parks have worked to develop a “phased approach to safely reopen these iconic destinations to visitors.”
The decision also was made after talking with the governors of nearby states and also has the blessing of officials in Park, Fremont and Teton counties in Wyoming.
“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 1 of the plan begins Monday with opening of the South and East entrances to the parks in Wyoming. Visitors can access the lower loop of the Grand Loop Road as well as restrooms, self-service gas, trails and boardwalks.
In Grand Teton, only primary road access will be available, as well as restrooms and day hiking on seasonal trails. Neither park will yet offer overnight lodging, food service or visitors centers.
Yellowstone also has released a 12-page plan for its phased reopening. Phase 2 includes campgrounds, backcountry permits, visitor cabins, more stores, expanded tours, takeout food service, boating and fishing and limited opening of visitors centers. That could happen later in May or in June, although a date hasn’t been set and will depend on if health conditions at the time will allow.
Phase 3 will have the park up to its full services.
Getting the national parks open and available for visitors again is vital to the economies of Wyoming and the United States, Gordon said.
“This is really good news,” he said. “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-19.”
Gordon also will hold a briefing on the state’s virus situation at 3 p.m. Wednesday, where he’s also expected to discuss the state’s public health orders limiting gatherings and public places that are set to expire after Friday.