Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone Dips Slightly, Snowcoach Use Up. East Entrance remains disused.

Winter ’07-08 Snowmobile Use in Yellowstone National Park Dips Slightly, Snowcoach Use Up. National Parks Traveller.

One of the most interesting parts of this story is the snowmobile use of the East Entrance, bitterly kept open by political agitation from Cody business interests who say it is vital. Keeping the entrance open is a big diversion of Yellowstone Park financial resources.

Only 1.3 snowmobiles used the East Entrance per day.

A similar thing happened 20 years ago when they (Cody business politicians) agitated to keep the Fishing Bridge RV campground open even as other Fishing Bridge facilities were being closed due to severe conflicts with grizzly bears. They claimed hardly anyone would use the East Entrance if people couldn’t use this wonderful RV campground. At the time, I never had visited it. When I did I found an parking lot completely surrounded by small lodgepole pine.. No view at all — completely unattractive.

Wyoming senators intervened and kept the RV campground open.






  1. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Cody business interests have been agitating to keep Sylvan Pass open in winter for snowmobilers, but I’m sure the NPS does NOT want to close it. That would diminish the size of the NPS bureaucracy, and you don’t advance your career as Superintendent of Yellowstone by diminishing the size of the bureaucracy. The only way to get the East Entrance closed is to get your Congressional delegation to ask the NPS if the cost per visitor in winter isn’t just a bit much.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Unless she has a special fund for keeping the East Entrance open, Suzanne Lewis would not see this program a bureaucracy builder, but a drain on things she wants the Park bureaucracy to do.

    Unfortunately, writing to your member of congress will probably not do much good because most them have similarly wasteful projects that they think are popular at home. Therefore, they would think why pick a fight with Wyoming congressionals and make them interested by some of my projects (often called “earmarks” nowadays).

    Hope I am wrong. I do like to think that citizen’s opinions in the general public interest do sometimes count

  3. Dave Smith Avatar
    Dave Smith

    Bureaucracy–A quick review of the Fishing Bridge fiasco reveals a lot about the true nature of the Yellowstone bureaucracy. 1. In the late 70s, the NPS decided to build a giant 700 room hotel in grizzly bear habitat at Grant Village. 2. Instead of complying with the law (National Environmental Policy Act) and doing an EIS about the whole project, the NPS illegally divided the project into segments, beginning with the construction of 100 hotel rooms. Since the project only involved a piddling 100 rooms, the NPS did an 11-page Environmental Assessment that said it was no big deal. The Grant Village EA was not publicized, and drew zero (0) public comments. 3. During the transition between the Carter Admin. and the Reagen Admin, the late Superintendent John Townsley made one little change to a preliminary Yellowstone Park budget Congress had tentatively approved; he added a phrase stating that $7 million would be used for “phase ” construction at Grant Village. 4. Somehow, the USFWS heard about Grant Village. Instead of stopping the moronic Grant Village project before Congress officially approved Yellowstone’s budget, the FWS stayed silent. 5. After the budget was approved, Yellowstone NP and the USFWS cooked up a bogus deal, a Grant Village for Fishing Bridge “trade-off.” The FWS would allow the NPS to build a 700 room hotel at Grant Village, provided the NPS closed “facilities” at Fishing Bridge. As the FWS knew, the NPS had no “facilities” to trade. The cabins at Fishing Bridge had long been condemmed and closed to the public. The facilities at Fishing Bridge that were leading to grizzly bear mortality were the Fishing Bridge campground and RV Park. Incidentally, the National Environmental Policy Act requires agencies to use “clear language.” 6. The rationale for building Grant Village had gone from, “we just want to build a shiny new hotel,” to “we’re building a new hotel as a favor to grizzly bears. It’s part of a trade-off that allows us to close “facilities” in even better bear habitat at Fishing Bridge. 6a. The main rationale for expanding Grant Village from 100 rooms to 700 rooms, plus restaurant, employee housing, etc is that it would be a waste of money–$7 million–to just have 100 rooms with no other facilities. 7. With the bogus trade-off in place, and after construction was underway at Grant, the NPS cranked up its publicity machine and loudly announced that it would soon be closing the Fishing Bridge campground and RV Park. Business interests in Cody went crazy. Wyoming politicians went wild. Campers and the RV crowd were not willing to trade a campground and RV Park at Fishing Bridge for a hotel at Grant Village. Who’d a thunk it?

    The NPS pretended it really and truly wanted to close the Fishing Bridge campground and RV park, but gosh, golly, gee, there’s so much political pressure against the closures we can’t do it. My experience with the Fishing Bridge-Grant Village trade-off makes me wonder if the NPS really wants to close the East Entrance in winter.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I commend you for your great description of the Grant Village/Fishing Bridge manipulation, and I agree 99%.

    I still don’t think Yellowstone Park employees or bureaucracy is gaining anything my keeping the East Entrance open — it’s all a drain unless they get a special appropriation. The bad guys live in Cody.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan