Yellowstone Set To Open For Winter Season
Contact: Al Nash or Stacy Vallie, (307) 344-2015
The interior of Yellowstone National Park opens for the winter season on Wednesday morning, December 19th. Visitors will be able to take commercially guided snowmobile and snowcoach trips over snow covered, groomed roads to popular destinations including Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The Final Rule implementing a long-term winter use plan for Yellowstone was published in the Federal Register today. It calls for operations to continue this winter like they have the past three winters, with changes beginning in Winter 2008-2009.
Up to 720 commercially guided Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles a day will be allowed to enter the park this winter. All snowmobiles and snowcoaches will continue to be 100% commercially guided. The rule continues to require that snowmobiles and snowcoaches travel only on existing park roads groomed for their use. It also calls for Sylvan Pass to remain open to motorized oversnow travel.
Yellowstone will use a combined helicopter and howitzer program to conduct avalanche hazard mitigation operations this winter on Sylvan Pass. A 101 mm howitzer was used to successfully conduct an avalanche hazard mitigation mission on Wednesday. There had been widespread natural snowpack releases in the avalanche paths in the past week. Utilizing the howitzer, park staff members were able to safely release snow above the East Entrance road on several of the 20 avalanche paths along the pass.
Methods used to reduce the risk of avalanche hazard mitigation this winter may result in longer temporary closures between the detection of avalanche risk and the reopening of Sylvan Pass to motorized oversnow travel compared to historic avalanche hazard mitigation operations.
Park employees are using grooming machines in preparation to open park roads to motorized oversnow travel. Current snow depths range from just 4 inches in Hayden Valley to 23 inches at Grant Village. The National Weather Service forecast calls for a chance of snow through Tuesday, with overnight temperatures in the single digits above and below zero, and daytime highs in the teens to low 20s.
Xanterra Parks and Resorts provides lodging, food service, cross-country ski rentals and lessons, snowmobile rentals and snowcoach tours of the park. Details are available online at www.travelyellowstone.com or by calling 866-GEYSERLAND.
Information on other authorized winter operations providing snowmobile and snowcoach trips into the park is available on the web at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/wintbusn.htm or by calling the park’s Concessions Management Office at (307) 344-2271.
Visitor centers will be open at West Yellowstone, Old Faithful and Mammoth. Ranger-led activities and evening programs will be available throughout the winter. Information on programs is available in the winter edition of the park newspaper, by calling (307) 344-2251, or on the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/rangerwinter.htm.
The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, to Mammoth Hot Springs and through the Lamar Valley to the Northeast Entrance and Cooke City, Montana, is open all year to automobile traffic.
Updated conditions on all park roads used by automobiles, snowmobiles and snowcoaches are always available by calling (307) 344-2117. Starting December 19, visitors will also be able to check the status of park roads during the winter season online at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/winterreports.htm.
- www.nps.gov/yell -
Did You Know?
The 1988 fires affected 793,880 acres or 36 percent of the park. Five fires burned into the park that year from adjacent public lands. The largest, the North Fork Fire, started from a discarded cigarette. It burned more than 410,000 acres.