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With plenty of early snow, Yellowstone National Park begins the winter season



Yellowstone National Park, Montana – On Thursday morning, Yellowstone National Park began its winter operations. Businesses near the park are happy since this year’s early snowfall is among the greatest in recent memory.

“It really just brings a heartbeat to the town,” said Brad Benson, general manager of High Mark Rentals in West Yellowstone.

Rachel Spence, of Free Heel and Wheel, agreed. She said, “As soon as the gates open, people come in.”

At the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce, President and CEO Katrina Wiese said, “Great snow. Really early snow. You know, we always have our ski fest that weekend of Thanksgiving, so we’re always hoping for snow and this year we got a lot of it early on.”

And that’s driving up the demand for skis, snowmobiles, and hotel rooms. “It’s happening. I mean we have just an awesome amount right now. It’s really good skiing. The trails have been groomed since early November.” Said Rachel Spence of Free Heel and Wheel.

With the park’s opening, winter visitors who are anxious to view the well-known thermal sites in the distinctive and lovely winter setting will have access to Yellowstone’s interior. Yellowstone National Park Ranger Rich Jehle said, “This is the earliest that we’ve switched over to over-snow vehicles in quite a number of years. We’ve been on snowmobiles in the park for employees, for a couple of weeks.”

“People are coming into town, not only for the park, but it draws them into the town for the park and then a few days later they’ll come outside the park and enjoy that as well,” said Benson.

Even the staff at a store that can hardly make money throughout the winter appear enthusiastic for the opening.

Steve Hoovler, the co-owner of Big Sky Anglers noted, “Winter’s the time that we get to catch up on life.”

After all, fly fishing is scarce during these months. However, it does make a difference when the park is open.

“We see more people coming through town, we see more people coming through the front door. That’s a welcome change, it’s fun to see people in town,” said Hoovler.

The summer flooding is still having an impact even though the park will be completely open to over-snow vehicles in the south and the route to Cooke City will be open in the north.

The sewage infrastructure in Mammoth was damaged by flooding, thus the Mammoth Hotel won’t be operating for the winter. Services inside the park are scarce, and most amenities are closed, as is customary in the winter. Campgrounds aren’t accessible during the winter. Keep your distance even if you might observe additional wildlife.

Back at the Chamber of Commerce, Katrina Wiese is optimistic, “I think we’re going to have a really strong winter. You know, we have amazing things, our events are coming back strong,” said Wiese.

This is one of the snowiest winter openings in recent years, with at least three feet of snow falling in the last two weeks.

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