Yellowstone’s Largest Lodging Option Closed for Winter Due to COVID-19

by Jon D. B.
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Those looking for lodging at Yellowstone’s famous Old Faithful Inn this winter will have to look elsewhere due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Old Faithful Inn, it seems, isn’t so faithful anymore. According to the Associated Press, over 100 guest units are closing up from now through winter. The move comes in response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. As experts predict a rise in winter cases, Yellowstone is looking to do what they can to prevent creating a hot spot for the virus.

Along with Old Faithful, Xanterra Travel Connections will close the Madison Campground ahead of winter, too. Xanterra runs Yellowstone’s park accommodations and cites a “successful year” despite the closures ahead.

While the year has been difficult for most, 2020’s fall season has seen the highest park attendance on record for any September. Nearly a million people went to the park – 837,000 to be exact. This is a 16% rise from the previous record month of September 2018. October, too, is looking to produce similar numbers.

Mike Keller, general manager for Xanterra Travel Collections in Yellowstone, is optimistic. “We’ve had a very successful year,” Keller says. “We feel like we’ve been safe, and it’s time to say we’re done for the season. [And] let’s get out and get ready for winter.”

During the winter, Yellowstone is accessible only by snowmobiles and snowcoaches, as well. This further complicates operation during a pandemic. The park simply isn’t willing to risk lives over a vacationing spot. In this, it seems, Old Faithful Inn – is as faithful as they come, after all.

Old Faithful Inn – Yellowstone’s most famous Lodging

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1920s SADDLE HORSES AND VACATIONING PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE 1904 OLD FAITHFUL INN LOG HOTEL YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK WYOMING (Photo credit: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images)

While the closure may come as a shock to most, regular visitors to the park will note that Old Faithful Inn was also shut down this summer. Staffing issues stemming from the coronavirus pandemic made operations impossible, according to Yellowstone.

This year is far from the first closure for Old Faithful, however. The Inn will celebrate 120 years of operation in 2023. It has been through the Great Depression and World War II, and remains a staple of Yellowstone to this day:

As a national historic landmark, Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodging facility in the park. Built in 1903-1904 with local logs and stone, the Inn is considered the largest log structure in the world. The towering lobby features a massive stone fireplace and a hand-crafted clock made of copper, wood and wrought iron serving as focal points. Listen to live music in the awe-inspiring lobby or meet a local artist in our Inspired By Yellowstone artist series.   With 327 rooms, the Old Faithful Inn is open from early May until mid-October and features a full-service restaurant, lounge, snack bar, gift shop and daily tours.

Yellowstone National Park

Alongside the famous Yellowstone Lodging’s closure, the park’s interior loop roads will be closing, too. Starting November 2nd, all entrances will close – except for one. The north entrance will remain open for winter. This entrance sits between Mammoth and Cooke City in Montana, and will operate indefinitely.

[H/T USA Today, AP]

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