How to Be an Informed and Mindful Traveler
While the national parks reopening during the past two years have made us optimistic about summer travel, we’ve identified 5 essential factors you should consider before you hit the road. And one last thing. Throw your propensity to assume out the window. As we’ve seen during the past two years, there are no guarantees that businesses will stay open, virus cases will go down or stay-at-home orders will be a thing of the past.
1. Every state has its own rules that vary dramatically.
Each state has different quarantine orders that vary dramatically from state to state. Within states, orders can even vary from county to county or town to town. For instance, if you pass through the Navajo Nation, you must wear a face mask.
2. Not everything in the park will be open.
Just because a national park reopens does not mean everything within the park is open. Staffing challenges may mean that there are limited services available. Be sure to check each park website to ensure that the services you need are available. Lastly, avoiding crowds and practicing Leave No Trace principles in the park are more essential now than ever with reduced park staff. We’ve teamed up with organizations and brands across the outdoor industry to help you make smart decisions on recreating to keep yourself and others healthy and to keep access to our beloved public places open. You can read more about how to #RecreateResponsibly.
3. Every town and local business is operating differently in this new normal.
Do advance research on what hotels and restaurants are open and what they are doing to keep customers and employees safe. Some restaurants may only offer take out. Others might have a long waiting list because they have fewer tables because of staffing shortages. If you have a choice between local businesses and a national chain, consider supporting the local business.
4. Be mindful that you’re a visitor in someone’s hometown.
While you may feel footloose and fancy free after being cooped up for two years, don’t throw caution to the wind. People live in the towns you’re traveling through and they want to feel safe as they open up their economies. Many have tiny medical centers and are miles from the nearest full-service hospital. If a store posts a sign asking all customers to wear face masks, put on your face mask. Be the traveler you’d want to see visiting your town.
5. If you’re sick, stay home.
No one wants to get sick, so if you’re not feeling well or have signs of COVID-19, stay at home or if you’re on the road, head home immediately. Travel when you’re healthy.
Yellowstone National Park
As of July 12, 2022, Yellowstone is requiring face masks to be worn by all visitors over the age of two inside buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
Yellowstone National Park is open, but some of its services are limited in comparison to pre-COVID days. To find out what dining rooms are open, which ones require reservations and which ones only serve hotel guests, visit Yellowstone National Park Lodges.
To get up-to-date news and “alerts,” go to the Yellowstone news site. www.nps.gov/yell/learn/news/
Follow the park on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YellowstoneNPS
Increasing Mitigation Efforts
The park has implemented significant mitigation efforts including: providing additional protective barriers where needed, encouraging the use of masks or facial coverings in high density areas, metering visitor access in certain locations, increasing cleaning frequency of facilities, adding signage on boardwalks and other public spaces, and messaging to visitors through a variety of methods.
Visitors should come prepared and follow all CDC and local health guidance by practicing good hygiene and social distancing. Face coverings are recommended where social distancing is not possible. People who are sick should stay home and not visit the park. The CDC has provided specific guidance on visiting parks and recreational facilities at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/visitors.html.
Which Yellowstone Lodging is Open
Find out the latest at Yellowstone National Park Lodges: www.yellowstonenationalparklodges.com/health-and-safety/
In the meanwhile, the park staff is advising travelers to enjoy Yellowstone virtually via webcams, virtual tours, photo galleries, apps, videos, and other digital content at www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/ and www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/app.htm.
Grand Teton National Park
As of July 12, 2022, Grand Teton is requiring face masks to be worn by all visitors over the age of two inside buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
Grand Teton National Park is open. Check for updates about what’s open in terms of dining options, as well as Jenny Lake Lodge and Jackson Lake Lodge and campgrounds.
Travelers should book Colter Bay Campground, Jenny Lake Campground and Gros Ventre Campground in advance at recreation.gov. Prior to 2021, these campgrounds were first-come, first-served. They have now moved to a reservation model, so that travelers can plan a camping trip and hit the road to the park, knowing they have a guaranteed place to sleep with their reservation at a campground.
For specific park service information about openings and closures in Grand Teton National Park and to see “alerts,” you can visit the official Grand Teton National Park news page www.nps.gov/grte/learn/news/.
Follow the park on Facebook, you can go to the Official Grand Teton National Park Facebook page www.facebook.com/GrandTetonNPS/.
Campsite information is available on Recreation.gov: www.recreation.gov/camping/gateways/13525
Other National Park Sites
The National Park Service has been updating its COVID-19 page daily with information about individual parks. You can visit it here: www.nps.gov/aboutus/news/public-health-update.htm