Yellowstone and Glacier Park Reopen, Six Citations Issued During Shutdown
Within 12 hours from the end of the federal government shutdown, both of Montana’s big national parks were up and running at nearly full capacity.
“Some things are effected and somethings aren’t,” said Yellowstone National Park spokesman Dan Hottle. “The good news is that we’re open and that you can see as much of the park as can be expected this time of year.”
All gates into Yellowstone are open and major tourist destinations such as the Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs education centers began taking visitors at 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning.
Around 600 Yellowstone employees were sent home for the days between October 1 and October 16, while another 120 stayed at work in the park. At Glacier National Park, 250 were furloughed, and around 20 to 25 remained working without certainty of a regular paycheck.
“It’s quite exciting,” said Glacier National Park spokeswoman Denise Germann. “I think everyone is pleased to be back to work, pleased to be doing their job and pleased to be part of Glacier National Park.”
Though both parks are open, mother nature is bringing some things to a stop soon anyway. Hottle said that a few things are still closed that normally wouldn’t be, however, they were set to close in the next few days anyway.
“There is one caveat,” Hottle said. “We always tell people this time of year when they come into the park that they should be prepared for inclement weather. Just because we’re open, doesn’t mean it’s always a mother nature place to be this time of year.”
Over at Glacier, the popular Going to the Sun Road was closed in the morning so that debris could be cleared off, but it was back open in short time.
“Everything is where it should be this time of year,” said Germann. The Going to the Sun Road is open to Big Ben, and it will be open until Sunday.”
Germann said that Glacier law enforcement issued no citations during the shutdown, but some travelers had registered complaints that law enforcement at Yellowstone was too harsh. Hottle said that the park issued six citations, but only to people who knowingly went into the park and ignored the signage.
“We did issue some citations, but we felt that our law enforcement measures really didn’t have to be used to keep people out,” Hottle said. “We were understanding that the general public was concerned and very angry that the park was closed. We were angry ourselves that the park was closed. I think that, in all fairness, everything went smoothly. There were some people that were a little more irate than others, but for the most part people understood why we had to close. They knew that we didn’t want to close, and they were the ones who were first lined up to get back in our gates this morning.”