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Another summer is approaching in Yellowstone National Park, and officials are getting ready to let visitors drive to some of its top attractions beginning this weekend.

Park officials said in a news release Monday that they expect to open roads leading to Old Faithful and Canyon Village on Friday.

The first road sections planned to open are from the west entrance to Old Faithful, from Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful and from Norris to Canyon Village. The road from Mammoth to the Northeast Entrance is open year-round.

Roads leading to Yellowstone Lake are scheduled to open early next month. The Beartooth Highway is expected to open on May 28.

The reopening plans come a year after the park was shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic. Yellowstone closed to visitors in late March 2020 and stayed closed through the month of April. Wyoming’s entrances to the park opened in May, but Montana’s entrances stayed closed until June 1.

The closures dealt a significant early blow to the park’s visitor counts, but numbers skyrocketed through the summer. The final six months of the year posted visit counts well above the counts for the same months in 2019.

The park reported more than 3.8 million visits for the year, making it the sixth-busiest year on record.

Despite the more traditional opening dates, life in the park will still look a little different from before the pandemic.

Masks will be required in buildings and at any time when social distancing isn’t possible, in line with President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring mask-wearing.

Park-run visitor centers will stay closed. Those buildings didn’t open last year because of the pandemic and park spokeswoman Linda Veress said they would be closed until further notice.

“We don’t have any exact dates for when or if they might open,” Veress said.

Popular swimming spots at the Boiling River and Firehole River will also stay closed because of the pandemic.

Yellowstone National Park Lodges is scheduled to open some of its accommodations later this month, beginning with rooms at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel on April 30. Cabins there are scheduled to open in May.

Cabins and rooms at several other spots will also be open, but the accommodations won’t opearte at full capacity, according to the company’s website.

Dining options will be limited to takeout only.

Construction will happen as usual. As a result, the road from Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Village will remain closed through the season. The road was also closed last year.

Crews are working to widen the road, add pull-outs and build a bigger parking area at Tower Fall General Store. Work is also being done to improve Tower Fall’s trail and overlook. All the work is expected to be complete in May 2022.

The overpass at Old Faithful is getting some work done and will be reduced to one-lane travel for a time this summer, meaning visitors should expect delays of up to 15 minutes. The work will include repairs to the bridge and its approaches and it’s supposed to be done next fall.

Crews are also working on an expansion of the north entrance near Gardiner. That will mean traffic pattern changes there but the entrance station will be open.

A number of services are now available online. Visitors can buy passes and fishing permits on Three campgrounds were also added to the online reservation system this year.

Using those systems to plan ahead could help improve visitors’ trips to the park, Veress said.

“We are expecting a busy summer,” she said.

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Michael Wright can be reached at or at 582-2638.

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