For the first time since the fall, visitors to Yellowstone National Park will be able to drive to see Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone starting Friday morning.
The road segments from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to these popular visitor destinations open for the season at 8. Each spring, Yellowstone National Park plow crews clear snow and ice from 198 miles of main road, 124 miles of secondary roads and 125 acres of parking lots inside the park as well as 31 miles of the Beartooth Highway outside the park’s Northeast Entrance to prepare for the summer season.
Additional road segments in the park will open during May as road clearing operations progress. Yellowstone’s east and south entrances are scheduled to open the first week in May. The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Mont., through Mammoth Hot Springs to the Northeast Entrance, Silver Gate and Cooke City, Mont., is open all year. The road east of Cooke City to WY-296 typically opens by mid-May. Crews from the National Park Service and the Montana Department of Transportation strive to open US-212 over the Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge, Mont., in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
As an added incentive for spring visitors, park entrance fees will be waived this weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, as a kick-off to National Park Week. A seven-day pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is normally $25 for a private, non-commercial vehicle. END
Visitors should be aware that spring in Yellowstone is very unpredictable and often brings cold temperatures, high winds and falling snow. Even cleared sections of roads can be narrow and covered with a layer of snow, ice and debris. Visitors should use extreme caution when driving as road clearing operations can be ongoing at any time throughout the park. In the case of extreme weather conditions, temporary road closures are also possible with little or no advance warning.
Due to the snow present in the park’s interior, walking on trails or on boardwalks through thermal areas may also be difficult or impossible for some time. Bears have emerged from hibernation in the Greater Yellowstone Area and are on the hunt for food.
If you plan to hike, ski or snowshoe in the park you are advised to stay in groups of three of more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray. Yellowstone regulations require visitors to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense is to stay a safe distance from bears and use binoculars, a telescope or telephoto lens to get a closer look. Very limited visitor services will be available during the next several weeks.