Limited Snowpack Presents Yellowstone Winter Opening Challenges
Contact: Al Nash or Stacy Vallie, (307) 344-2015
Yellowstone National Park is ready to open for the 2008-2009 winter season as scheduled next Monday, December 15. Travel through the East Entrance over Sylvan Pass begins a week later.
Limited, managed snowmobile and snowcoach travel over groomed, snow-packed park roads will be permitted this season under rules similar to those followed the past four winters.
Visitors with reservations to travel into the park by snowmobile or snowcoach with permitted winter outfitters will be able to enter Yellowstone starting Monday morning. However, if the current limited snowpack on park roads does not significantly improve this weekend, access to the interior of the park may be temporarily limited to certain types of vehicles.
Starting Monday, rubber tracked snowcoaches will be allowed on all park roads normally groomed for motorized oversnow travel. Absent significant snowpack, permitted winter outfitters would also be allowed to temporarily operate wheeled vehicles equipped with snow tires and chains from the park’s North and West entrances through Madison Junction to Old Faithful. Private wheeled vehicle access to the interior of the park will not be permitted.
When snow conditions significantly improve, snowmobiles, snowcoaches with metal cleats, and snowcoaches with ski steering will be permitted, and the temporary use of commercially operated wheeled vehicles will be curtailed.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Yellowstone National Park for Friday evening through Saturday night. The forecast calls for snow accumulations of a foot or more this weekend in portions of the park.
Up to 720 commercially guided, Best Available Technology (BAT) snowmobiles and up to 78 snowcoaches will be allowed per day this winter in Yellowstone National Park. A list of authorized winter service providers can be found online at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/wintbusn.htm.
The road linking Gardiner, Montana with Mammoth Hot Springs, and the park’s Northeast Entrance at Cooke City, Montana, is normally open to wheeled vehicle traffic all year.
Yellowstone's weather is very unpredictable. Always be prepared for a range of conditions. Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling (307) 344-2117.
- www.nps.gov/yell -
Did You Know?
Prior to the establishment of the National Park Service, the U.S. Army protected Yellowstone between 1886 and 1918. Fort Yellowstone was established at Mammoth Hot Springs for that purpose.