Yellowstone National Park Roads Opening to Cyclists Sans Automobiles

It's not for everyone, but some of the roads in Yellowstone are open to cyclists, who won't have to worry about dodging traffic for another month or more. NPS photo.

It's that perfect season for cycling in Yellowstone National Park -- the roads have closed to over-snow traffic, plowing is under way, and public automobiles won't be allowed into the park's interior for a month or more.

As a result, adventurous cyclists have an opportunity to experience the change from winter to spring in Yellowstone first-hand, largely without other visitor traffic.

Beginning today, bicyclists are being allowed to ride between West Yellowstone, Madison, Norris, and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Snow removal efforts may also allow for a brief period of bicycle-only access into the park sometime in May from the South Entrance to West Thumb, and from the East Entrance toward Sylvan Pass. There is no seasonal bicycle-only access to Old Faithful or Canyon.

Cycling in Yellowstone during the summer months borders on suicidal, what with the narrow roads and large, ponderous RVs, though I've seen more than a few cyclists chance it. Of course, cycling in the park this early in the year carries it's on risks, too. The weather is unpredictable, and severe winter conditions can be encountered at any time. Plus, there are no services open in the interior of the park and riders should be prepared to take care of all their own needs.

Additionally, the "cleared" sections of roads might be narrow and covered with a layer of snow and ice, and pullouts very likely could be filled with snow. Cyclists should expect to encounter snowplows or other vehicles operated by park employees or construction workers traveling in conjunction with park operations.

If you do venture into Yellowstone on your bike in the coming weeks, park officials ask that you ride single file, suggest you carry bear spray, and ask that you be ready to turn around and backtrack when encountering wildlife on the road.

More information on cycling in the park during this time of year can be found at this site. And you can call 307-344-2109 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays for updated road access information, or 307-344-2113 for 24-hour weather information before traveling to the area.

The road from the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, to Cooke City, Montana, at the park's Northeast Entrance, is open all year to cyclists and automobiles, weather permitting. The only campground open this time of year is at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Weather permitting, park roads will begin opening to motorized vehicles on Friday, April 17. Some interior park roads don’t open to automobile travel until Memorial Day weekend.

Comments

When it comes to cycling in the parks, Zion National Park is perhaps the most accommodating. In addition to restricting the use of private vehicles, bicyclists have the right of way on the park road. Shuttle busses will not pass a cyclist unless he/she pulls over to the side.

Not in the eastern part of Zion. Bicycles are not allowed in the one mile Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel, no pedestrians either. Meaning you can't enter or leave the park towards or from Bryce Canyon. Of course you might try to hitchhike with an RV driver. Some might give you a lift through the tunnel.

Thanks for the correction, MRC. I have used the tunnel twice going into the park. I put my bike in a van and took it out on the other side. It's an interesting ride down from the tunnel into the park.

I'm going to try and bike in Yellowstone, weather permitting - we had one great weekend last year; so neat to run into friends 100 miles from home, everyone had the same idea.

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