Yellowstone National Park kicks off spring season, opens roads, begins construction


Yellowstone National Park kicks off spring season, opens roads, begins construction

GARDINER, Mont. - As you kick off your weekend, Yellowstone National Parking is kicking off its 2015 tourist season.

The gates opened Friday morning and already visitors are driving through. But as Yellowstone welcomes a growth in tourism each year, the park also needs to keep up with the aging infrastructure.

The park's Public Affairs Spokesperson Amy Bartlett said the season opening comes right on time and the lack of snow helped plow crews.

"Some parts of the park were a lot lighter than past years so they were able to accomplish that task a little easier than in the past," said Bartlett.

She said the nice weather could boost spring visitation, the numbers increase every year, and with so much traffic, President of the Greater Gardiner Community Council Bill Berg said the cars can get backed up, especially at the entrance.

"Historically, we've had on really busy days in the summer, traffic backed up from the entrance way, sometimes as much as a mile across the Yellowstone River Bridge to the other side of Gardiner," said Berg.

The infrastructure to handle it is aging, that's why the park is taking on a major construction project.

"We're going to address decades worth of unmet infrastructure and needs in Gardiner," said Berg.

The plan calls for more parking spaces near the North Entrance.

"Adding some parking, some pedestrian friendly elements," Berg listed.

And sidewalks, plus a new welcome center with bathrooms. All in efforts of making the area around the famous historical Roosevelt Arch safer and more accessible. But for those driving under the arch now, drivers will notice one difference from springs past.

"There's going to be less snow on the ground when visitors enter the park this spring," said Bartlett.

As Yellowstone celebrates the start of a new season, the park also kicked off National Park Week and to celebrate, you can visit Yellowstone for free Saturday and Sunday.

You can travel Mammoth Hot Springs down to through Norris to Old Faithful, from Norris to Canyon to see the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and from West Yellowstone to Madison.

The roads not yet open will be opening sometime in May.

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