Melting snow means no snowmobiles from West Yellowstone

A long stretch of above-normal temperatures and limited snowfall in Yellowstone National Park have resulted in a dramatic reduction in the snowpack on road segments linking West Yellowstone and Old Faithful.

That has left many areas along the road from West Yellowstone through Madison Junction to Old Faithful with large portions of exposed pavement visible, requiring the National Park Service to change how vehicles may access the park in that area.

The lack of snow results in unsafe operating conditions for snowmobiles and snow coaches with ski steering, according to a statement released Tuesday by the park’s public affairs office.

Due to these circumstances as well as the current and forecast weather conditions, as of Tuesday morning, February 17, guided visitor travel on this road segment is limited to commercial snowcoaches with rubber tracks or commercial wheeled vehicles.

Despite the changing conditions, visitors may not use their own private wheeled vehicles to travel into the park from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful.

The park has worked with groups who had planned a guided snowmobile tour into the park originating from West Yellowstone, and has found ways for most if not all of them to travel into the interior of the park, officials said.

Conditions on all other interior park roads which are groomed for commercial and non-commercially guided snowmobiles and commercial snowcoaches remain fair to good.

Guided travel from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful will continue as scheduled through March 15.

Park staff members continue to closely monitor oversnow road conditions and weather forecasts.  Improving or deteriorating conditions may prompt further changes to motorized oversnow access in the coming days.

The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Mont., through Mammoth Hot Springs and on to Cooke City, Mont., outside the park’s Northeast Entrance is open to automobile travel all year.

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