• Steam rises off of the colorful Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Photo courtesy Jacob W. Frank


    National Park ID,MT,WY

Beartooth Highway Opens for Season

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Date: June 10, 2011

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
June 10, 2011      
Al Nash or Dan Hottle (307) 344-2015

Montana Department of Transportation
Lori Ryan (406) 444-6821


Beartooth Highway Opens for Season

After two weeks of delays caused by heavy, late spring snow conditions, U.S. Highway 212, known as the Beartooth Highway, opens to vehicle traffic at 9:00 a.m. today.

Through a joint effort conducted each spring, snow plowing crews from both Yellowstone National Park and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) cleared the famous 67-mile passage that links the park’s Northeast Entrance with the community of Red Lodge, Montana.

The Beartooth Highway is maintained as a seasonal road that opens around Memorial Day weekend and closes by mid-October depending on snow conditions.

This year a majority of the road spent well past its traditional opening date buried under more than 25 feet of snow and ice. In advance of the scheduled May 30 opening, MDT had cleared a section from Red Lodge to Vista Point, though the road was opened and closed several times over the next few weeks due to adverse weather and snow conditions. At the same time Yellowstone crews were forced to pull resources from the Beartooth to focus on road clearing efforts over Dunraven Pass to increase visitor access that was being affected by other weather-related delays within the park.

Each year the National Park Service clears the road from the park’s Northeast Entrance at Milepost 0.0 through Wyoming to the Montana state line at Milepost 43.1., meeting up with MDT crews that have plowed the road from Red Lodge. MDT and NPS then coordinate closely to keep the road open throughout the summer.

Cutting through the Absoroka-Bearthtooth Wilderness, the Beartooth Highway is the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet), and is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies, passing through one of the highest and most rugged areas in the lower 48 states, with 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation. Because of the road’s altitude, extreme weather conditions including snow, ice, rain and high winds can force road closures at a moment’s notice. In 2008 the road was closed for nearly the entire season when a rock slide caused by heavy rains buried the road.

Because of rapidly-changing conditions, motorists are encouraged to check the status of the road in advance by contacting the proper state transportation departments.

Travelers in Montana may dial 511; those outside Montana may call 800-226-7623, or visit the Montana Department of Transportation website at http://mdt511.com/. Travelers in Wyoming may dial 511; those outside of Wyoming may call 888-996-7623, or visit the Wyoming Department of Transportation website at http://www.wyoroad.info.

For road conditions inside Yellowstone National Park, visitors can call the parks’ 24-hour road hotline at (307) 344-2117 or visit http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit.

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