Fire Continues to Keep Yellowstone's East Entrance Closed

The Columbine Fire was sparked by lightning on August 9. NPS Photo by Michael Keator.

For those planning a Yellowstone vacation in the immediate future, know that the East Entrance to the park, located about 53 miles west of Cody, Wyoming, currently is closed due to a forest fire burning in the area.

Park officials say the Columbine Fire, which was kindled by a lightning strike last Thursday, remains fairly dangerous. Latest reports estimate its size at 2,500 acres.

If you find yourself in Cody and wanting to reach Yellowstone, you can get there, but it will take a little longer. What you'll need to do is head north on the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and head through the Sunlight Basin to Yellowstone's Northeast Entrance at Cooke City, Montana.

While it will take you some extra time, this route is incredibly gorgeous.

Comments

Watch for elk in the roadway, especially pre-dawn. We came upon the backsides of several small herds which were headed in the same direction as our vehicle.
We were fortunate to experience a bravura sunrise that morning as we headed westward.

Road re-opening at 8 AM today.

8/14/07 Yellowstone's East Entrance to reopen Tuesday morning (press release by National Park Service)

There are a lot of stories about this and other fires in the Yellowstone area in the Yellowstone Newspaper linked below. If you are traveling, however, and want to do something different, Kurt is right about the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. Now that traffic on it should recede, you're all in for quite a treat.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Kurt's headline is correct again as of last evening. Yellowstone has re-closed the East Entrance.

See - 8/14/07 Columbine fire threat casues temporary East Entrance closure (press release by National Park Service)

Also, for those of you going over the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, a motorcyclist has blogged about it. He mentions seeing the fire.

8/14/07 Chief Joseph Highway & Beartooth Pass (by Joe)

And, as before, the Yellowstone Newspaper linked below my name has information on a lot of other fires out there and other news from Yellowstone (including more news on Sylvan Pass, but this time on the snowmobile issue). From what I have read, fires in the region tended not to grow very much; however, weather forecasts are predicting some dangerous weather.

For other information on Yellowstone's Columbine fire, a good compilation is at InciWeb; however, there have been some server problems there. Recently, the NPS has been updating a little faster than InciWeb, but that's not always true.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

The most recent press release (8/15 afternoon) just out says that the East Entrance remains closed. This "may remain in effect for a few days," according to the National Park Service.

See http://www.nps.gov/yell/parknews/0768.htm

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

As of 9 AM MDT, the NPS has yet again re-opened the East Entrance.

See http://www.nps.gov/yell/parknews/0774.htm.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

No sooner do you think that it's safe to travel through the East Entrance, and it closes yet again! This time, it's not the fire but a mudslide outside of the park. This is the second time this summer a mudslide has closed the East Entrance. There's no word yet when it will re-open; the forecast also calls for windier conditions, which might mean that the Columbine fire, which is 0% contained and has now burned 18,500 acres, may advance again.

The most recent press release on the closure is here.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Mudslide cleared; East Entrance opened again.

See 8/19/07 Mudslide outside Yellowstone cleared; East Entrance open again (press release by National Park Service)

Because of all the rain, firefighters are being re-assigned outside of Yellowstone. It's wet enough that the fire isn't expected to expand, if it does, for about another week.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World