Jackson Lake Lodge

Guests are treated to waves of storms rolling across the Teton Range at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park in 2016. The historic lodge is not expected to open this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes it’s causing to staffing, Grand Teton Lodge Company announced Tuesday.

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Historic lodges in view of the Tetons and lakes nestled beneath the jagged range are among Grand Teton National Park offerings that will not open for the 2020 summer season.

Grand Teton Lodge Company announced Tuesday that Jenny Lake Lodge and Jackson Lake Lodge are not expected to open this year. Some of the concessionaires’ services in the park will start to boot up the second half of May, but many facilities’ opening dates have been pushed back or put off altogether.

“Unfortunately this summer will look very different than in years past, and we share the disappointment of our guests and employees, but prioritizing their health and safety remains our top priority,” Grand Teton Lodge Company Vice President Alex Klein wrote the News&Guide in an email. “For those who are not able to join us this year we hope to welcome you to the Tetons next summer.”

Teton park itself remains off-limits for now, joining most national parks that have closed entry gates temporarily to discourage travel and tourism amid the global pandemic. So far, park officials aren’t giving any hints about when the Moran, Moose and Granite Canyon gates might open.

“We don’t have any specific details,” spokeswoman Denise Germann said. “There are no placeholder dates for anything at this point.”

But Grand Teton Lodge Company’s targeted dates may provide some insight into when the park will welcome tourists. The first place slated to open is the convenience store and gas station at Colter Bay Village, where the targeted opening is May 22, the Friday leading into Memorial Day weekend. The Gros Ventre Campground comes next, expected to open May 29.

By June 5 other services and facilities may start to phase back in: Colter Bay’s campground, RV Park, tent cabins, grocery store, launderette and gift shop; and at Flagg Ranch, the campground, RV park and convenience store.

Cabins and to-go food at Colter Bay and Flagg Ranch are expected to be available by June 15. That’s the same date that Yellowstone National Park’s primary concessionaire, Xanterra, plans to open many of its services. Earlier, Xanterra officials were looking at Memorial Day weekend but last week announced they were pushing things back.

“Now we’re looking at June,” Xanterra General Manager Mike Keller said.

When the park first opens to the public, services aren’t certain to be offered, Keller said. “Then, as we can bring employees on safely, then you’re going to see a gradual opening of services in Yellowstone.”

Campgrounds, cabins with their own bathrooms and to-go food service will be most of what’s available to the public in Yellowstone this summer.

Like Grand Teton, Yellowstone’s lodges and hotels aren’t expected to open to public use in 2020. Guests won’t be relaxing with drinks listening to a live pianist at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, nor will they be catching glimpses of geyser mist from their room at the Old Faithful Inn.

Keller is tentatively planning to house much of his 800-person seasonal workforce at hotels in Mammoth and Canyon. Normally there would be roughly 3,500 seasonal staffers, which means they’ll be functioning with 80% fewer people.

Klein couldn’t be reached for details about the effects on Grand Teton Lodge Company’s workforce, but he provided a statement that said he’ll be unable to house a large number of seasonal employees in shared dorms this summer due to the novel coronavirus.

Also on the chopping block for 2020 are Colter Bay’s motorboat rentals, lake cruises, guided fishing trips, marina store, corrals and activities desk.

Decisions about opening dates for some other services haven’t yet been made. Jenny Lake Campground, Jenny Lake Store, and other marina services at Colter Bay are all on that list.

Editor's note: This story has been modified to clarify that schedules for Signal Mountain facilities, and what will open, are not yet determined.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

(3) comments

William Addeo

This is a sick hoax and very anti-American. It's our park not yours to close. What about our tax dollars? Can we have them back? This is all about Trump. If Hillary was elected, this would have never happened. Communist infiltration into our lives is destroying America.

Where are the protestors?

TERRENCE MILAN

It's not only the tourist attractions that are the issue. We have a small hospital and when we had an out break in the shoulder season, ended up helicoptering people to Idaho. This while the population was a season low. Part of this is the local hospital size. The combination of seasonal workers and tourists from who knows where coming here all at once has created doubts whether we have both the hospital capacity and personnel to handle an outbreak. During the pandemic I keep hearing un-American a lot. But the pandemic didn't restrict itself to one place and among the countries impacted, we have one of the higher infection rates. I can still remember my mother's contempt with people who claimed that war-time restrictions on people were un-American at the same time my father was trying to find a dry place to rest in the South Pacific. Might be our first pandemic, but not the first time American's have been asked to sacrifice.

Greg Hunter

You are right, had Hillary been elected she would have reacted faster and prevented the spread of this disease. Trade Wars, golf and rallies is all we got from this administration. Elections have consequences. PS Xanterra or other contractors "own" the hotels....privatize the profits and publicize the losses even in our parks. You might want to read about the Fred Harvey company and how our Park System has been erode by contractors.

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