From Staff Reports
CODY, WYO. — With budget cuts affecting the road-plowing schedule in Yellowstone National Park, more attention than usual has been focused this year on which roads will be plowed and when.
The National Park Service has set up a page on the Yellowstone website that allows the public to chart plowing progress, showing on a map the approximate daily location of the plows as they make their way along the park’s roads.
The complex and costly job of removing snow from more than 300 miles of paved road in the park can cost up to $1.5 million per year, depending on snow levels. Work typically starts the first full week of March, but Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk opted to delay plowing to save $250,000 toward a total of $1.75 million in cuts required under the Congressional sequester.
Updated information will be posted on the page every morning, Tuesday through Friday, according to a statement released Tuesday by the park’s public affairs office.
Every Friday, a summary of the plowing efforts of NPS road crews will be posted to the official park Facebook page.
Park Service plowing crews work four 10-hour days, according to the plowing information page, so plowing does not occur Friday through Sunday.
Fundraising by the Wyoming gateway towns of Cody and Jackson will cover the costs for crews and equipment from the Wyoming Department of Transportation to start road clearing from the park’s East and South Entrances toward the park’s interior in early April.
The roads from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful will open to automobile travel at 8 a.m. on Friday, April 26, weather permitting. The road from Norris Junction east to Canyon Village and then south to Fishing Bridge Junction is now set to open to travel on Friday, May 3.
Weather permitting, plowing by Wyoming crews will allow the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass to Fishing Bridge to open to travel on Friday, May 3 as originally scheduled. Road clearing by WYDOT crews will also allow travel through the South Entrance to Grant Village, West Thumb Junction and on to Fishing Bridge to begin as originally scheduled on Friday, May 10.
The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Mont. through Mammoth Hot Springs on to the Northeast Entrance and the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, is open all year.
The section of US-212 between the park’s Northeast Entrance through Cooke City and Silver Gate to the intersection with WY-296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, will open on Friday, May 24, in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The section of the Beartooth Highway between the junction of US-212/WY-296 and the community of Red Lodge, Mont., is scheduled to open on Friday, June 14.
Though Yellowstone’s roads are closed to autos, bicycling is allowed in during the spring season between the end of winter use and before roads open in April and May. Cyclicsts are advised that weather and road conditions can be difficult and that trips should be carefully planned in advance.
Information on current conditions in the park is available online, and updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.