Yellowstone National Park is proposing a patch of pavement about the size of eight football fields to accommodate the ever-growing number—and size—of RVs that roll through.
Under the park's Lake Area Plan, which was released for public review last month, it proposes to put down about 10 acres of pavement within the existing Fishing Bridge RV Park, which is currently the only campground in Yellowstone that offers water, sewer and electrical hookups for RVs. The plan also calls for 2.8 more acres, or 121,000 square feet, of building development in the area.
"We are not proposing expanding the footprint of the RV park," says Eleanor Williams Clark, a Yellowstone planner. "We're proposing all development to be within the boundaries of that [RV] park...and it does not violate any of our grizzly bear conservation measures that are in place."
Clark says Yellowstone received 130 comments during the public review period that ended March 2. Most, she says, were in favor of the larger comprehensive plan, with the size of the RV park being the most contentious component. One of the comments in opposition was a 347-signature petition gathered by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.
"We don't think there's tremendous public clamor for a lot more asphalt inside Yellowstone National Park," says GYC Conservation Program Director Mark Pearson. That "may be appropriate in a commercial RV campground in a gateway community, but that doesn't seem appropriate to us inside Yellowstone."
Pearson also says the park shouldn't base the design of its infrastructure on RVs, which he says accounts for a "pretty tiny slice of the visiting public."
Clark can't say what the percentage of Yellowstone visitors arrive in RVs. But it's not the number that's the problem. "It's the fact that some of them are longer and require longer or larger turning radii," she says. "They're not outlawed. They're allowed in the gates at this point in time. I know others have pointed to the possibility of limiting [RV] length, like other parks"—including Glacier National Park—"have done." Yellowstone has studied that before, she says, but decided against it. "That's not to say it can't be explored in the future."