West Yellowstone Entrance Closed

The entrance to Yellowstone National Park is closed on Wednesday in West Yellowstone.

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A few dozen guest cabins will be open when Yellowstone National Park’s Montana entrances open Monday, but most of the park’s lodging options will stay shuttered as the park lifts parts of its coronavirus closure.

Xanterra Travel Collection, the company that manages the famous hotels inside Yellowstone National Park, announced Friday that 37 cabins at Mammoth Hot Springs would reopen Monday. The Terrace Grill at Mammoth Hot Springs will also open for takeout service.

Xanterra announced the openings with a news release that details a gradual reopening of accommodations in the world’s first national park, with more cabins and campgrounds opening by mid-June.

“This gives us a chance to kind of ease into it and see how it goes,” said Rick Hoeninghausen, a Xanterra spokesman.

But rooms in Yellowstone’s iconic hotels — like the Old Faithful Inn and Lake Yellowstone Hotel — will stay closed to guests for the foreseeable future. The release said the hotels could reopen sometime in 2020 “if conditions allow.”

Hoeninghausen said any opening of the hotels would depend on public health guidelines and that the company wouldn’t open any of the hotels until at least July 3.

Yellowstone closed in late March as part of efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19. Health officials from the counties surrounding the park raised concerns that encouraging tourism would endanger the small gateway towns and threaten their already limited hospital capacity.

The full closure lasted seven weeks. Yellowstone reopened its Wyoming entrances and the southern half of the park May 18. Thousands of people have visited since then — the park counted 4,600 cars over Memorial Day weekend.

On Thursday, it announced it would open the Montana entrances on Monday, the same day Montana will lift its mandatory self-quarantine order for out-of-state travelers.

The park has a three-phase reopening plan. Jody Lyle, a Yellowstone spokeswoman, said the park has “dipped our toe” in phase two, with more visitor services becoming available and the opening of boating and fishing season in the park.

Xanterra’s decision to open some cabins next week was a change from the park’s announcement Thursday, which said the park would only be open for day-use next week. But the small number of cabins means the options will be significantly limited until later in the month.

Xanterra’s release said cabins at Old Faithful Lodge and Snow Lodge would open June 8. Cabins at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Lake Lodge would open June 17, and cabins at Canyon Lodge are scheduled to open June 19.

Campgrounds managed by Xanterra are set to start opening June 15, beginning with the Madison Campground. Bridge Bay and Grant village campgrounds open June 17, and the Canyon campground opens June 19. The Fishing Bridge RV Park is going to stay closed until Fall 2021.

There is no date yet for when the campgrounds managed by the park will open.

Takeout food and beer and wine will be the only food options in the park for now. Xanterra’s release said it would not offer dining room seating or dinner reservations because of public health guidelines.

At Old Faithful, the Geyser Grill at Snow Lodge has been open since May 22. On June 8, the Old Faithful Lodge bake shop and cafeteria will open.

The Grant Village Dining Room opens June 17, as do the Lake Lodge Lobby Bar and Wiley’s Canteen. The Eatery at Canyon Lodge opens June 19.

Guided tours and other activities managed by Xanterra will be limited. The release said road-based tours, Scenicruise tours, stagecoach rides and the the Old West Cookouts won’t be offered this year.

The company will offer some bike rentals at Old Faithful Snow Lodge beginning June 8. Services and boat rentals at Lake Yellowstone will begin June 17. Horseback rides at the Canyon Lodge Corrals will begin June 18.

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Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2638.