Centennial Celebrated at Yellowstone,
Despite Wildfires

Visitors to Yellowstone National Park are not allowing the local wildfires to dampen their enthusiasm for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Even though one of the park entrances was closed, forcing an hour-long detour into Idaho,  park visitors are still coming. And aside from a smoky haze in some parts of the world’s first national park, nothing inside Yellowstone seemed unusual.

One Entrance Blocked

National Park Service Photo, Public Domain

The Berry Fire, which began July 25 in neighboring Grand Teton National Park, blocked Yellowstone’s south entrance, near the resort town of Jackson, Wyoming. Wildfire managers were allowing that fire to burn on Jackson Lake’s west side, where no buildings or people are threatened, according to the Associated Press.

Park officials continue to monitor about a dozen fires in western Wyoming and eastern Idaho, including the Maple Fire, which was burning on Yellowstone’s west side, and has scorched about 32,000 acres.

They stated that, if any of the fires flare up or smoke gets too dense, visitors in vehicles might have to be escorted through the area.

“There is no impact from the fires that is affecting those (centennial) events.” – Yellowstone fire spokesman Bill Swartley

According to Yellowstone fire spokesman Bill Swartley, park attractions and scheduled events are continuing as planned. “There is no impact from the fires that is affecting those (centennial) events,” he said.

Record-Setting Visitation

Creative Commons Photo by Greg Willis

This year looks like it’s on pace to surpass 2015′s record-setting visitation of more than 4 million. That’s something that the park’s top brass see as a challenge to deal with, as they are charged with both preserving the natural features and letting visitors enjoy the park. When those two things come into conflict, officials begin wondering if it’s time to limit the number of people that the park lets through the gates.

Talk of loving parks to death has been circulating as the throngs of people visiting Yellowstone seem to only increase. Wildlife jams have gotten longer, trailheads are crammed, campgrounds are often at capacity, and bus traffic is skyrocketing.

Dan Wenk, Yellowstone’s superintendent, said limiting the number of visitors is one possibility being considered. He added that there is probably a point where there are too many people for the park, a carrying capacity of the ecosystem, but they aren’t there yet.

“I don’t know what it is, but obviously we haven’t reached it yet because the numbers keep going up,” he said.

In celebration of 100 years of national parks, enjoy this clip from the National Park Service:


Featured Image: Pixabay

US News & World Report

USA Today

Bozeman Daily Chronicle