Wyoming's national parks and monuments will all waive entrance fees Saturday through Monday in honor of Veteran's Day weekend. This includes Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park and Devils Tower National Monument.
"National parks preserve places that commemorate our country's collective heritage — our ideals, our majestic lands, our sacred sites, our patriotic icons — which our military has defended through the years," said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. "We are grateful for the service and sacrifice of military members, past and present, and honored to tell their story at many of our national parks."
However, access to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone is somewhat limited during the transition season to winter. Grand Teton closed its main thoroughfare between the Taggart Lake Trailhead and Signal Mountain Lodge at the beginning of October. Through the winter months, the park doesn't plow the roads but allows usage by non-motorized traffic. Bikes and foot traffic are welcome on the road, but usage generally transitions to snowshoes and cross-country skis as winter progresses.
Likewise in Yellowstone, only the road from the North Entrance at Gardiner, Mont., through Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Junction, the Lamar Valley and on to Cooke City, Mont., is open to wheeled vehicle travel all year. The rest of the roads are in transition for limited winter snowmobile and snowcoach traffic in accordance with Yellowstone's winter use plan.
The free weekend is especially significant in Yellowstone, where the military protected the park from poachers and souvenir hunters for 32 years starting in 1886, according to a Yellowstone news release.
"It set the tone for conservation and protection of special places like Yellowstone, which still guides the uniformed members of the National Park Service to this day," the release stated. "Among the most visible reminders of the military presence in the park are the stone and tile roofed structures of Fort Yellowstone in Mammoth Hot Springs, which are still used by the park for administration and residences."
Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the fort year-round.
Additional information on the military era and on Fort Yellowstone can be found online at http://www.nps.gov/yell/historyculture/ftyell.htm
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