All you need to know to enjoy the 4th of July in Yellowstone

Nathan Bartlett, 8, helps Old Faithful Inn bellman Ed Nabors take down the American flag atop the hotel during a 2012 summer trip to Yellowstone National Park. (NPS photo by Dan Hottle - click to enlarge)

NPS photo by Dan Hottle

Nathan Bartlett, 8, helps Old Faithful Inn bellman Ed Nabors take down the American flag atop the hotel during a 2012 summer trip to Yellowstone National Park.

July is the Yellowstone National Park’s busiest visitation month, and the Independence Day holiday is always a time when crowds are enjoying the sights and sounds of all of Yellowstone’s natural wonders.

Park officials are offering a few reminders about how to stay safe and enjoy all that Yellowstone has to offer over the 4th of July:

  • All roads, campgrounds, lodging, visitor amenities and activities are open for the season. Road construction projects on the park’s Grand Loop Road will be halted over the weekend, and there will be no traffic delays or night road closures at any of the construction areas between 5 p.m. Thursday, July 3 and 7 a.m. Monday, July 7.
  • While annual fireworks displays are held in many of the park’s gateway communities, visitors are reminded that no fireworks are allowed inside the park or on surrounding National Forest lands. After a snowy winter and wet spring, vegetation is beginning to dry out, prompting an increase in the fire danger rating to “moderate” on July 1.
  • Extra time should be factored into traveling from place to place in the park.  Traffic congestion and delays due to a high volume of vehicles, especially when wildlife are on or near the roadway, should be expected. Visitors should keep their eyes open for animals present on the road and be prepared to stop for unexpected wildlife sightseeing “jams.”
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and is strictly enforced in Yellowstone.  All vehicle occupants are also required to wear seatbelts while traveling on park roadways.
  • Whether along the road or along a hiking trail, visitors are required to view wildlife from a safe distance of at least 25 yards, and stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.  This is to ensure the safety of both people and animals.
  • All visitors traveling on foot in the park away from developed areas, especially on trails, should stay in groups of three or more, make noise on the trail, keep an eye out for bears and carry bear spray. Bear spray has proven to be a good last line of defense, if kept handy and used according to directions when a bear is approaching within 30 to 60 feet.
  • You can protect yourself and Yellowstone’s valuable natural resources by staying on boardwalks in thermal areas.  Pets, smoking and eating in thermal areas are also prohibited.

For valuable trip planning information, visit http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/index.htm.

For current, 24-hour road conditions, call (307) 344-2117 or visit http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm.  For current camping information, weather conditions and forecasts, call (307) 344-2113. For information on permits and reservations, visit http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/feesandreservations.htm.

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