JACKSON, Wyo. — Crowds had lined up at the gates to Grand Teton National Park well before they opened at noon Monday, May 18.
Both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks opened their gates to partial public access yesterday. In Yellowstone, only the south and east entrances opened, both in Wyoming, as Idaho and Montana still have travel restrictions in place.
In Yellowstone, 542 vehicles passed through the south entrance and 504 entered through the east.
Both parks are open for day use only. Campsites, lodging, and food services are not yet open, nor or visitor centers. Only the lower loop of Yellowstone is currently open.
Still, crowds gathered at popular sites like Old Faithful and Pacific Creek, where the famous grizzly 399 showed off her four cubs. Visitors came from all over, as suggested by the diverse representation of license plates on cars passing through the entrance.
Both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park officials are urging guests to wear face masks and respect physical distancing. But health guidelines were lost to many in the excitement, as many visitors forewent facemasks in even crowded areas.
At a call announcing the parks’ opening last week, both Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly and Teton Acting Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail urged visitors to practice physical distancing for public safety.
“I will not put my staff at risk by having them attempt to distance large numbers of visitors who decide not to socially distance,” Sholly said. “There’s a huge responsibility on visitors.”
“The acceptance of public responsibility is going to be critical to our success,” Noojibail echoed.