From Staff Reports
Yellowstone National Park’s East Gate opens for the 2012 summer season Friday, along with Colter Pass, the road leading from Cooke City, Mont. to the Chief Joseph Highway and Cody, Wyo. Roads from West Yellowstone, Mont. Roads leading from West Yellowstone, Mont. and Gardiner, Mont. into the park are already open.
The southern portion of Yellowstone’s Lower Loop Road between Grant Village and Old Faithful is not yet open. That section and the park’s South Gate open May 11, while Dunraven Pass is scheduled to open May 25.
Visitors entering via the Yellowstone east entrance or other roads should be aware that spring in Yellowstone is unpredictable and often brings cold temperatures, high winds and snow. Even cleared sections of roads can be narrow and covered with a layer of snow, ice and debris. Park officials advise visitors to use caution when driving, as road-plowing operations continue throughout the park.
In the case of extreme weather conditions, temporary road closures are also possible, often 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 until the arrival of warmer weather.
Bears have emerged from hibernation in the greater Yellowstone area and are on the hunt for food, so hikers, skiers and others using the backcountry are advised to stay in groups of three of more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray.
Yellowstone regulations require visitors to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times. The best defense is to stay a safe distance from bears and use binoculars, a telescope or telephoto lens to get a closer look.
Limited visitor services will be available in Yellowstone for the next few weeks. The Visitor Education Center and the Snow Lodge Geyser Grill at Old Faithful opened for the season on April 20, as did the Canyon Adventure Store and the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center. Gasoline will be available inside the park using 24-hour pay-at-the-pump stations at Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Junction, Canyon and Old Faithful. The Yellowstone General Store, clinic, post office, campground and Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth Hot Springs are open year-round.
Each spring, Yellowstone National Park crews clear snow and ice from 198 miles of main road, 124 miles of secondary roads and 125 acres of parking lots inside the park as well as 31 miles of the Beartooth Highway outside the park’s Northeast Entrance to prepare for the summer season.
This year, construction projects will include ongoing bridge repair along the northeast road at the Lamar River Bridge, with possible 30-minute delays expected, along with new road repair between Tower-Roosevelt Junction and Chittenden Road and new parking lot repair at Canyon Village, both of which will include nightly closures.
A seven-day pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is $25 for a private, non-commercial vehicle.
Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117, or online at the National Park Service website.
Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.