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YELLOWSTONE Park opened as upgrade work lingers



Published: Sat, June 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The $300 million road improvement project is just one of many renovations.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- Yellowstone National Park opened for the busy summer tourist season April 22, making way for a seemingly endless procession of RVs, campers and tourists attracted by the park's scenic beauty and unique thermal features.

Some three million people visit the park in northwest Wyoming each year with the vast majority coming during the summer.

This season, however, some park areas will be closed for construction.

The historic Old Faithful Inn, which is undergoing a $22 million renovation, will not open until July 1 and is scheduled to close Sept. 11 -- earlier than normal. The separate Old Faithful Lodge Cabins and the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins will both be open as usual.

Expectations

As usual, park visitors can expect roadwork to slow travel inside the park as the park service continues its 20-year, $300 million effort to improve the park's road system. The major road projects this year are located on the eastern end of the park.

An 11-mile section of the Grand Loop Road between Canyon and Chittendon Road, which provides access to Mount Washburn, will be closed for the season. The popular Mount Washburn overlook can still be accessed via Tower Junction on the north end of the Grand Loop Road.

Construction will block access to a few trailheads and picnic areas but the popular inspiration point overlooking the falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone will not be affected, according to Steve Lobst, Yellowstone's chief of maintenance.

The East Entrance Road will be closed nightly between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. between the East Entrance and Sylvan Pass and open to traffic between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. During the daytime, motorists may be delayed for up to 30 minutes along a seven-mile construction zone.

Also, just outside the park's Northeast Entrance, work will continue to improve the scenic Beartooth Highway in Montana.




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