From Staff Reports
Yellowstone National Park kicks off its winter season as scheduled Saturday, operating under the same management plan as last year.
Beginning at 7 a.m. Dec. 15, visitors can travel the park’s interior roads on commercially guided snowmobiles or snow coaches from the North, West and South Entrances.
Travel through the park’s East Entrance over Sylvan Pass is scheduled to begin Dec. 22, according to a statement released Wednesday by the park’s public affairs office.
The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Mont. through Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyo. and on to Cooke City, Mont., outside the park’s Northeast Entrance, is open to autos all year.
At Old Faithful, the Geyser Grill, the Bear Den Gift Shop, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center open for the season on Dec. 15. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins and the Obsidian Dining Room open on Dec. 18.
The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, dining room and gift shop open for the season on Dec. 20. In Mammoth Hot Springs, the Yellowstone General Store, medical clinic, campground, post office and Albright Visitor Center are open year-round, as are the 24-hour gasoline pumps at Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction.
All communities around and on the way to Yellowstone are open year-round, with local businesses offering a wide range of winter recreation opportunities. Extensive information and assistance for planning a visit to Yellowstone during the winter is on the park’s website.
Winter weather in Yellowstone is unpredictable, and road closures or delays can occur with little or no warning. Visitors are reminded to come prepared by carrying personal emergency survival equipment in their vehicles and dressing appropriately for outside activities in extremely cold weather.
Winter use in Yellowstone this season is being managed under an operating plan much in the same manner as has been permitted the last three winters. Under the rule, up to 318 commercially guided, best-available technology snowmobiles and up to 78 commercially guided snow coaches will be allowed into the park each day.
In early 2013, the National Park Service intends to issue a final supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and a proposed rule to guide long-term winter use in Yellowstone, which should take effect in time for the 2013-14 winter season.