Yellowstone Holds The Phone

Yellowstone National Park's new cell and wifi plan blocks coverage in sensitive areas

After at first getting all excited about providing cell and wireless Internet coverage over large areas of the park, it seems Yellowstone officials are getting cold feet: They now plan to block coverage at key sites, including developed areas like the Lake Hotel, Old Faithful Inn, Roosevelt Lodge, Old Faithful Lodge, Lake Lodge and Mammoth Hotel. They're also calling for the relocation of three communications towers, one of which is near Old Faithful.

While many have praised the park's efforts to maintain a pristine environment, other commentators worry that it could deny those in trouble a tool for survival: 

Accidents can and will happen and restricting cell phone access in such a large swatch of public land is going to cause more harm than good. 

Just last summer, two women were rescued from Alaska’s Denali National Park after they’d gone missing for five days. They were saved because one of the women had a cell phone, and she was able to get cell phone service and call her mother, providing a rough idea of their location on the fifth day. 

For now, cell phone towers will stay banned from roads, campgrounds, and anywhere in the backcountry, so don't expect to call for help if you get cornered by a bison or a bear. You'll just have to handle it the old-fashioned way—with wrasslin':

Do you think there should be expanded cell coverage in Yellowstone? Tell us in the comments section below.

—Ted Alvarez

Park’s cell phone plan raises safety questions for backcountry hikers (Montana Kaimin)