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Yellowstone National Park: No Cellphone Towers in Campgrounds or Recommended Wilderness, Limits on Wi-Fi


Yellowstone officials: No Wi-Fi at the Old Faithful Inn. Kurt Repanshek photo.

Yellowstone National Park officials, in an effort to limit electronic intrusions in the park, are banning cellphone towers in campgrounds and recommended wilderness and limiting wireless access in some hotels.

Additionally, they say they will work to relocate the existing cell tower at Old Faithful and to reduce the visual impacts of cell equipment on Mount Washburn.

The restrictions, which some might find too stringent and others not stringent enough, come amid the explosion of electronic communications, whether by cellphone or the Internet.

"Wireless communications in Yellowstone will be allowed in very limited areas to provide for visitor safety and to enhance park operations," park officials said Monday in releasing the plan. "The plan restricts towers, antennas, and wireless services to a few limited locations in the park in order to protect park resources and limit the impact on park visitors."

Yellowstone last fall released an environmental assessment on the proposal to erect more cell towers in the park. You can find that document, which later had changes integrated to reflect public comments, at this site.

Plans addressing wireless communications have been completed or are under way at other National Park Service sites, including Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada and Arizona, and Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC.

Yellowstone's plan prohibits cell towers in recommended wilderness, in campgrounds, or along park road corridors. No cell phone service will be allowed in the vast majority of Yellowstone. Cell service is currently limited to the immediate vicinity of Canyon, Grant Village, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful. The park would accept proposals to establish cell service for the Fishing Bridge/Lake Village area.

In Yellowstone, "Park concessioners would be allowed to offer Wi-Fi service in some buildings. In response to comments, Wi-Fi will be prohibited in the Old Faithful Inn and the Lake Hotel in order to preserve the historic lodging experience. Concession operators will be permitted to offer Wi-Fi service in other park lodging and general stores."

The plan also calls for Yellowstone to actively promote the courteous and respectful use of cell phones and Wi-Fi devices and to establish and sign "cell phone free zones" in the park.


I don't know about this. It seems to me they're saying cell phones and wi-fi are the dividing line between "a historic lodging experience" or not, which seems pretty arbitrary. I think the "historic experience" train left a long time ago at Yellowstone. The main areas of Yellowstone are not wilderness or in my mind, especially historic so restricting wi-fi won't really do anything other than deny a service that many guest apparently want.

I have a multiply handicapped son and as such have mixed feelings on the cell service zones in NP's. I have needed my cell service many times inside parks to communicate with my wife to make sure we have some piece of equipment or to bring this or that. We place out phones on quiet mode and try not to be to disruptive to others. Then again I am not sure why, most have the ringers turned up as loud as they will go, take calls regardless where they might be and when talking make sure everyone around them can hear. I think I will get some good walkie talkies for us, as they will accomplish the same thing from a communications need and put a base unit in the van.

Wow. Yellowstone isn't historic? Not wilderness? I don't think Asa has really experienced Yellowstone.

Yellowstone was the first National Park in the WORLD. It has more history than you can imagine. The first park Rangers, the first attempt at wilderness preservation. The reintroduction of wolves... the list is almost endless.

Sure, the main parts aren't pure wilderness anymore. And for good reason. They are fantastic. Unlike any other place on Earth. We have to make those places available to the public. And impaired people deserve to experience it, also, like Jimhikers kid.

We made a lot of mitakes in the beginning. Did you know Old Faithful used to have a large cone on it? The first visitors took away so many souvenier chunks- it's gone now. As a general rule- people are dumb. They have to be kept at bay. Thats why we have rules and trails to stay on.

If you want to experience Yellowstone as true wilderness, you have to hike the back country. A simple stroll to Fairy Falls is a great beginning. Or try Lone Star Geyser. You can't expect the wilderness to come to you. A bison will- but I don't suggest getting very close to them!

As for cell phones... once upon a time we didn't have cell phones. And we all survived. I, for one, enjoy being out of range. That's the reason I go to our National Parks and Monuments. To get away from the busy world, and enjoy the beauty of our country. Preserved for everybody to enjoy now and into the future. I don't want to see those ugly towers in the park. It's bad enough to see them everywhere else. Let's not destroy the view any more than it already has been.

When it is necessary to protect the enviroment for the wildlife then that is fine. But to say they are protecting a historic experience is a little ridiculous. That might make more sense in Colonial Williamsburg, than in Yellowstone. I don't really think of Yellowstone as a historical experience.

I applaud this ban......... There are those that are responsible and considerate, however they are in a very minor group of people. Park attendees have survived without the technology and will continue to do so with the greater peace and quiet being the winner. R & R

NO cell phones at all, ever! Visitors are in a National Park, not downtown or in a hotel in the "big city". Why in the world do they think they should have these devices if they destroy one square inch of ground or extend into the sky one foot? TAKE DOWN all existing cell towers! NOW!

I visit Yellowstone and Teton almost every year. Cell coverage has never been good and since I have a need to communicate with home almost daily I found a couple of solutions (satellite phone and satellite internet). I do think the rustic; back to nature experience can still happen even with cell coverage. The towers can be made to look just like a burned up lodgepole pine or anything other feature. It is done in other areas all the time. The issue with people talking on the phone, ringing phones, and other distractions probably won't go away if the phone does. People can be rude without cell phones, try the hand held video games with sound that can be played (play station anyone).

I am a solo physician and am limited in my travels because of not being able to successfully communicate with my office and my patients. I feel I am missing out on seeing a lot of America because of this. I can understand not having cell service or internet access in the wilderness campgrounds or along hiking trails but knowing one can drive a short ways to a larger facility is comforting. It allows me to check in several times a day. On the other hand, I do not appreciate indescriminate cell usage anywhere by rude people.

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