An outpouring of community support from gateway towns is helping Yellowstone National Park open for the spring on schedule, as opposed to several weeks later as officials thought they'd have to do under budget cuts.
Park road crews are out working to clear nearly 200 miles of primary road, almost 125 miles of secondary roads, and 125 acres of parking lots in order to open Yellowstone to wheeled vehicle travel this spring.
The roads from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful is scheduled to open to automobile travel at 8 a.m. on Friday, April 26, weather permitting. The road from Norris Junction east to Canyon Village and then south to Fishing Bridge Junction is now set to open to travel on Friday, May 3.
Fundraising by the communities of Cody and Jackson, Wyoming, will allow crews and equipment from the Wyoming Department of Transportation to start road clearing from the park’s East and South Entrances toward the park’s interior in early April.
Weather permitting, this plowing by WYDOT crews will allow the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass to Fishing Bridge to open to travel on Friday, May 3 as originally scheduled. Road clearing by WYDOT crews will also allow travel through the South Entrance to Grant Village, West Thumb Junction, and on to Fishing Bridge to begin as originally scheduled on Friday, May 10.
For the first time ever, there is a way for the public to follow the progress of NPS crews as they clear the interior roads of Yellowstone National Park. Updated information will be posted to the park web site every Tuesday through Friday morning.
Photos of this year’s NPS plowing efforts will be posted when available to the park’s Flickr site. Video of plowing progress by NPS crews will be posted when available to the park’s YouTube Channel. Every Friday, a summary of the plowing efforts of NPS road crews will be posted to the official park Facebook page.
The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana through Mammoth Hot Springs on to the Northeast Entrance and the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, is open all year.
The section of US-212 between the park’s Northeast Entrance through Cooke City and Silver Gate to the intersection with WY-296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, will open on Friday, May 24, in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The section of the Beartooth Highway between the junction of US-212/WY-296 and the community of Red Lodge, Montana, is scheduled to open on Friday, June 14.
Very limited visitor services will be available during the next several weeks. Opening and operating schedules are available on the internet at this page. Visitors are encouraged to check the park newspaper they receive at the Entrance Station for information on facility opening and operating hours.
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. Therefore, 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 including those along the Canyon Rim or on boardwalks through thermal areas may also be difficult or impossible.