The National Park Service (NPS) mission is a dual mandate: preserve Yellowstone’s resources, and make the park available and accessible for enjoyment and appreciation. The ways in which visitors access Yellowstone in winter can affect the park’s plants, animals, and wild character in ways more profound—and potentially more damaging – than at other times of the year. To meet its mission, the NPS has worked carefully to develop a long-term plan for winter use in Yellowstone that both protects the park’s resources and provides outstanding opportunities “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
For years, the National Park Service managed the park in winter with interim management plans in the face of repeated courtroom challenges over snowmobiles and other winter operations. The final rule, published in October 2013, established long-term management of winter use in Yellowstone and concluded more than 15 years of planning efforts and litigation.
Though the wildlife and plants of Greater Yellowstone are adapted to its cold, snowy winters, surviving the winter season can be a struggle.
Winter Use Management
The final Rule authorizing oversnow vechicle use in Yellowstone was published in the Federal Register on October 23, 2013.
Planning and Litigation
Learn more about the long history of winter use planning and litigation in the park.
Winter Use Adaptive Management Program
The management of winter use in Yellowstone National Park permits up to 110 transportation events per day.
Winter Use Frequently Asked Questions
Research shows that snowmobiles and snowcoaches contribute similarly to the impacts of winter use.
Last updated: December 1, 2017