More than 100 guest units are closing for the rest of the year and for the winter to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, park officials said in an announcement on the park website last weekend.
Another consideration is that there are very few medical services in that area of the park. During the winter, Yellowstone is accessible only by snowmobiles and vehicles called snowcoaches that transport people.
Xanterra Travel Collections, which operates accommodations in the park, will also close the Madison Campground a week earlier than normal.
The Old Faithful Inn operated by Xanterra was not open this summer because of staffing issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported.
Yellowstone’s interior loop roads and its south, west and east entrances are scheduled to close for winter on Nov. 2. The north entrance road will remain open without interruption between the Montana communities of Mammoth and Cooke City.
Despite the restrictions that will limit park visitation over the winter, a record number of visitors went to the park during the fall.
The 837,000 visitors for September was nearly 16 percent higher than during the same month in 2018, which held the previous record for the month.
October is on pace for similar numbers, said Mike Keller, Xanterra Travel Collections’ general manager for Yellowstone.
“We’ve had a very successful year,” Keller said. “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.”