Does Yellowstone Need More Internet Connectivity?

Yellowstone has a new call to action to go digital and are in preliminary discussions with CenturyLink about installing fiber-optic line in the park.
Woman looking at photo of Old Faithful on her laptop

In preparation for the National Park Service's 100th birthday in 2016, a published Call to Action included an initiative to go digital. This includes creating educational programs for cell phones and tablets, plus more robust information on park websites. According to, "just the opposite message is coming out of the U.S. Forest Service, which has been urging families to get off the grid and connect with nature."

Public Opinion on Internet Connectivity in the Park is Divided

Naturalists want Yellowstone to remain untouched by technology. This is what Yellowstone Park officials had in mind when they published the 2009 plan for wireless communications. The plan dictates that cell phone and wifi will only be allowed for visitor safety and to enhance park operations. It restricts towers, antennas, and wireless services to a few limited locations in the park, in order to protect park resources and limit the impact on park visitors. The communications plan also outlined the relocation of existing towers and antennas to restore natural views.

On the other side of the debate is a public that is increasingly connected with GPS, interactive maps, cell phone park tours, and social media. Vacationers want to "check in" at tourist destinations and instantly publish their bison photos to Facebook. There is also a business reason for more connectivity. It is not unusual for a concessionaire or tour operator to use manual credit card impression devices when a cell phone scanner would be more efficient.

Fiber Optics at Old Faithful?

Further fanning the fires of controversy, Park officials are in preliminary discussions with CenturyLink about installing a $34 million fiber-optic line through neighboring Grand Teton National Park and into Yellowstone. Some question whether this is the best use of money while there is a backlog of road repairs and maintenance to park structures. It will be a wait-and-see to whether CenturyLink will back off of asking the Park to foot part of the bill for their commercial venture.

In the meantime, PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) has started a petition to stop the parks from being wired.

Related Story: Do Cell Phones Work in Yellowstone? Is There WiFi?


Yellowstone Snowmobile

New Regulations for Snowmobiles and Snowcoaches in Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park has proposed new guidelines for winter use of snowmobiles and snowcoaches within park borders.

Kayaking on a River

Controversial Bill Could Lift Paddling Restrictions in Yellowstone & Tetons

Although it may be unlikely to turn into law, a new bill to open more waterways in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently in a Senate committee.

Mining in the Grand Canyon Mathers Point

The "No More Parks Act"

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on an act dubbed the "No More Parks Act" today, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. This combats the Antiquities Act of 1906 that protected the Grand Canyon from local mining interests.


Yellowstone Park May Delist Grizzlies

New research indicates that the grizzly bear has a more diverse diet than previously thought - including pine nuts, elk, bison, berries, trout, and insects - and that food sources available in Yellowstone National Park are sustainable for the bear population.

Roosevelt Gate: For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.

Yellowstone Already Worried About Future Closures

With two significant Congressional decisions looming in the early new year, it’s possible that the park could quickly find itself in the same position as it was this past fall.

Yellowstone grey wolf in the snow

More $$$ to Economy: Yellowstone Wolf Watching or Elk Hunting?

Wolves mean fewer elk and fewer elk hunters. That costs $$. But wolves also bring in the lookers who want to learn about these predators and that brings $$.

Yellowstone Wolf Howling in Winter

Gray Wolves Increase Tourism in Yellowstone National Park

Ecotourism in Yellowstone has increased since gray wolves were reintroduced to the ecosystem, boosting local economies by an estimated $5 million per year.

Yellowstone's Hayden Valley in Autumn

Autumn in Yellowstone - Everything You Need to Know

Everything you need to know about autumn weather, elk, bear, and bison activity in fall, plus seasonal closings of road and park facilities.

"Lunch Counter - For Bears Only" at Old Faithful, southeast of the upper Hamilton Store, and Ranger Naturalist Walter Phillip Martindale;

No More Lunch Counter for Yellowstone Bears

Today, it would be unheard of for people to intentionally feed bears but in the early 1900s it was common practice.