On our family trip this summer to Yellowstone National Park, my wife found great accommodations for us at Headwaters Lodge at Flag Ranch. It is conveniently located just a few miles from the southern entrance to the park, providing easy access to Yellowstone and to Grand Tetons National Park. The cabins we stayed in were comfortable enough, but not luxurious in the least. They were not equipped with AC, which in the evening was no problem. We could open the windows, and the temperatures dropped significantly overnight. There were no televisions or radios, and there was absolutely no cell service or wifi access. The park literature made it clear that this kind of “disconnection” was somewhat deliberate, making it possible for visitors to appreciate the natural resources without electronic distractions.
Our campground was in quite a remote area between the two national parks, so we really weren’t surprised that we would have no cell service or wifi. The lodge claimed to have wifi access, but we were never able to connect. What was a bit surprising was the lack of cell service throughout the parks. The only time we had a decent signal was at two or three of the major attractions, such as Old Faithful Lodge, or at a few of the stores and restaurants. It took a day or so to get used to the idea of this kind of isolation, but the adjustment finally came, for me at least. The other functions of our devices worked, of course, and I was grateful to have the capability of taking photos with my phone, mainly as a backup for my small Cannon point-and-shoot. Not being able to get calls from my other son back home or other family members was a little unsettling, I must admit. I wouldn’t want to be that out of reach for weeks at a time, but for a few days, it was okay to be really away from so many of the elements of civilization.
I suspect the parks will eventually find it necessary to expand their cell service and even the wifi access, not only for park personnel, but also for vendors and visitors. Doing so will no doubt change the experience of being in these wilderness sanctuaries for most visitors, and that is a bit unfortunate. Being immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors is certainly hindered by our gadgets, and having an opportunity to explore the wonders of nature without them definitely enhanced the encounter for me.