What makes Yellowstone different

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Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 12:43:46 10/20/16

In Reply to: Is Yellowstone next? posted by 46er


Over the years, there has been periodic discussion and even advocacy for some sort of mass transit option for Yellowstone. So far, nobody has come up with a "silver bullet" that would resolve the congestion problems without severely degrading the visitor experience.

The NPS has been forced by circumstance to employ mass transit in certain parks. I know there are various systems in place in the eastern U.S. My only firsthand experience is in the west. Rocky Mountain National Park's Bear Lake Transportation System (BLTS) has been in place for 30 or 40 years. It was a natural, because the Bear Lake Road was a dead end road to a major attraction, and there was limited parking in the Bear Lake area. There are trails that fan out all over the place once you get to Bear Lake or the Glacier Gorge area.

Both Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks have implemented mass transit during peak visitation times in areas of dead end roads.

Yellowstone is unique in that there are major attractions distributed all around the Grand Loop Road. The day may come when a bus system is deployed, but buses will still be subject to stoppage via animal jams. I have used the bus system in Denali several times, and it works fairly well. One key difference between Denali and Yellowstone is the amount of visitation.

Another complication in Yellowstone is the congestion at certain attractions, particularly the Old Faithful area and the Lower Falls area. Mass transit would only impact that problem if a system prohibited private vehicles during peak hours, limited the number of buses per hour, and somehow limited how long any visitors could linger in the area.

Some would argue that we already have a template in place via the Winter Use Management Plan, but the winter situation is markedly different in so many respects.

Another factor that differentiates Yellowstone from many other national parks is its relative distance from major population centers, and the finite availability of campsites and hotel rooms.

Developing a mass transit plan for Yellowstone will likely be a slow gradual process, coalescing a combination of what works elsewhere and creative solutions unique to Yellowstone. I would expect the public comment process to bring hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people, to participate. I'm guessing that we will see something that starts small as something of a "pilot test". I'm just not sure what it would look like.


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