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Yellowstone National Park closes for the season

POWELL (WNE) — There was a flurry of activity at the East Gate to Yellowstone National Park on Sunday as park employees prepared to close to automobile traffic for the winter.

The gate will remain closed for about six weeks until the winter over-snow season starts.

But the next time Park County’s only gate will swing open to wheeled vehicles won’t be until the first Friday in May — hopefully. The 2020 opening was delayed about three weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Who knows what 2021 will bring.

Despite the late start and an early fall blizzard, the park continued to draw a good crowd.

More than 837,000 visits to the park were logged in September, smashing the previous September record of 724,000 visits, set in 2018.

In his third year, Superintendent Cam Sholly said he is very pleased with the way the season went.

“Although a challenging season in many ways, the Yellowstone team and our partners made this summer a success and allowed millions to experience Yellowstone, while maintaining low COVID-19 infection rates,” Sholly said. “I cannot say enough about the performance of this team and the strong collaboration with our surrounding states, counties and communities.”

The East Gate was fairly quiet Sunday, with mostly locals looking for one last chance to search for wildlife on a beautiful day in the 50s. Traffic in the eastern section of the park was light and, even at the Midway Geyser Basin and Old Faithful, parking was a breeze.