WiFi in Historic Hotels

One of the Wireless Plan’s major goals was to maintain the character of the historic hotels.  According to the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Wireless Plan:

“In order to protect the experience expected at the historic lodging locations, the availability of WiFi will not be approved at the Lake Hotel, Old Faithful Inn, the Roosevelt Lodge, Old Faithful Lodge, Lake Lodge or the Mammoth Hotel.  WiFi will be limited in these areas, to the greatest extent possible,… Where cell phone service is available, visitors with the appropriate technology… may still be able to access the Internet at these locations, but the NPS will not permit commercial WiFi services to be installed.” (p. 6)  

But now the vast majority of cell phones can access the Internet without WiFi. The FONSI suggested a Plan B for restricting the use of electronic devices in these hotels to preserve their historic character;

 The Park will work with its concessioners to develop WiFi-free zones, courtesy protocols, and courtesy signing.” (p. 8)

To date, however, the Park has not put up any signs in the historic hotel lobbies seeking to alert people to the issue.  The Park has declared Madison and Norris officially WiFi-free zones, but that is it.  As Yellowstone’s Superintendent Wenk wrote to PEER on June 2, 2014, “Signs that describe the protocols for the use of mobile devices have not been installed on any of Yellowstone’s National Historic Landmarks at this time.” 

If Yellowstone wants to retain the historic character of the special places, it is high time that Park officials finally begin implementing the provision in the FONSI that requires them to work with the concessioners to develop WiFi-free areas, courtesy protocols, and courtesy signing. 

Otherwise, these grand lodges take another step toward devolving to a Holiday Inn or other commercial motel.