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Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Parks close, north gate to be local access only

Posted: 2:47 PM, Mar 25, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-25 16:47:10-04

Yellowstone National Park officials say the park is closed to all visitors until further notice because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t mean the north gate of Yellowstone, near Gardiner, Montana, will be locked.

That’s because of Yellowstone’s unique position of hosting a road that provides the only wintertime access to the communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City. Both are located in Montana, just outside the northeast entrance to the park.

Because Yellowstone’s northernmost paved road is the only access to those communities during the snow season, it will remain open. The road passes through popular grizzly bear and wolf viewing areas in the Lamar Valley and other areas in the northern part of the park.

Wildlife viewers often drive into paved pull-outs and watch for animals from their vehicles or from within the paved area. But according to Park Superintendent Cam Sholly, the north gate will be staffed and people will be turned away.

“We will be as flexible as possible in ensuring the residents, food, fuel, you know, you name it, are able to get to Cooke City,” Sholly said.

Sholly says the deciding factor in his decision to close the parks was the request from local counties and communities to clamp down.

“We are going to do everything possible to be ready to go as quickly as is safely possible with these communities once we come out of the other end of this,” Sholly said.