Wi-Fi in Yellowstone National Park? Useful or Unnecessary?

Yellowstone National Park
Arial view of Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Springs. Credit: yellowstonepark.com

Recent proposals have been made by a broadband internet company to bring wireless internet to Yellowstone National Park and hope it will spread to other national parks in the future. AccessParks specializes in providing internet access to remote areas and has been doing so for the US Military for many years, but now has their eyes on national parks.  Is this a good idea or will it hinder the genuine nature experience that national parks were created for?

Hundreds of buildings and popular park attractions throughout Yellowstone National Park have been identified to receive the upgrade of high-speed wireless internet soon. The current proposal will involve Canyon Village, Grant Village, Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Old Faithful. AccessParks believes that the addition of reliable internet throughout the park will help enhance visitor’s appreciation towards nature and contribute to people staying for longer visits.

“We couldn’t stay in national parks or most RV parks for more than a few days due to lack of quality Internet,” AccessParks states. “The solution we built for the most remote regions on earth for the military were a perfect fit for remote lodging and housing. Now, with AccessParks, we see a future where exploring the outdoors doesn’t have a time limit, and we can connect from anywhere, reliably.”

Yellowstone National Park
The historic Old Faithful Inn, one of the proposed buildings to receive Wi-Fi additions. Credit: Yellowstone National Park

The park, on the other hand, is more concerned about connectivity for their employees rather than the guests. Current and former employees have consistently cited the lack of quality internet as an issue and it has led to low retention rates over the years.  Yellowstone’s superintendent, Cam Sholly, doubts that any visitors are cutting vacations short due to lack of internet access.

“I have not heard anyone say they don’t stay longer because of no Wi-Fi. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, so I’m sure you could find some who would say it, but it hasn’t been something that I have heard,” Sholly shared in an interview with National Parks Traveler.

Having access to the internet and cell service is a nice commodity but our national parks are some of the few places you can go nowadays and truly be off the grid. Improving basic cell service within parks for emergency reasons seems reasonable but wireless internet seems like more of an added luxury.

Yellowstone backountry
Hikers leaving the crowds behind and exploring the vast Yellowstone backcountry on the Buffalo Plateau Trail. Credit: Yellowstone Gate

Public comment is highly encouraged and is open until November 29, 2019. To submit a comment, refer to the following link, Yellowstone National Park Wi-Fi Proposal.