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Natural Resources & Energy

Recreational Restrictions Begin To Lift Mid-May

Yellowstone River
National Park Service

Wyoming state park campgrounds open to residents only on May 15. Antler hunting will begin on May 1 as usual. Fishing nonresident daily and five-day licenses are under temporary suspension till May 8. No planned date to reopen Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Wyoming State Park Campgrounds

Wyoming state park campgrounds will open on May 15 for Wyoming residents only.

A high number of people recreated in February and March. Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Director Darin Westby said he wishes state park campgrounds could open earlier so people can enjoy them.

"Due to the pandemic that we're going through and due to the current budget crisis we're going through, what we didn't want to do is go out and hire a bunch of seasonal [employees] and then not be able to open our system, and then have to lay those individuals off and so we made the choice of holding off," said Westby.

Westby said the department is in the process of hiring seasonal employees right now. All campgrounds must be reserved in advance to ensure all campsites have a six foot buffer and to verify Wyoming state residency. Cabins and yurts will also be available for reservations but only Friday through Sunday. This will give staff time to clean and disinfect the buildings after a visitor's stay.

Antler Hunting Season and Fishing Licenses

Antler collection season will start as usual Friday, May 1.

Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik said he received concerns from three counties in northwest Wyoming. But he said he believes recreationists will follow current directives like non-residents self-quarantining for two weeks when entering the state, social distancing and practice good health safety rules.

"Safety is at the forefront of everybody's mind, and I think this antler hunting season is going to be something that folks will be surprised by how well this can happen without jeopardizing folks' health," said Nesvik.

He asked that non-residents wait at least until after May 8, when the governor's directive for out-of-staters to quarantine for two weeks expires or enjoy antler collection next season.

Nesvik said fishing nonresident daily and five day license sales will not be sold at this time. But he intends to resume the sale of licenses immediately after the out-of-state two week quarantine order is lifted on May 8.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

There's still no time set for Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks to reopen but Gov. Mark Gordon said they are working on trying to reopen as quickly as possible. National forest campgrounds in the state remain closed.

When the national parks do reopen, Gordon said lodging will be greatly reduced. Yellowstone Old Faithful Inn and Lake Yellowstone Inn in Yellowstone National Park and Jenny Lake Lodge and Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park will not open this year.

"That does mean that if the visitors that do come to Yellowstone to see what a great place it is.... they will be staying in our gateway community, places like Cody" said Gordon. "I've been working very closely with Park County to make sure that we are open and ready to business there."

Gordon said the summer revenue will not look the same since the tourism industry will take a huge hit this year.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Kamila Kudelska, at kkudelsk@uwyo.edu.

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