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Reservation period begins for self-guided Yellowstone snowmobile trips

Two people share a snowmobile during a January 2012 trip into Yellowstone National Park.

The week before Labor Day hardly seems like the ideal time for contemplating a winter trek through Yellowstone National Park. But Tuesday, Sept. 1 is a key date for anyone planning to travel through Yellowstone by snowmobile as part of a self-guided group. That's the first day to submit applications online for the lottery system that allocates spots in the self-guided tour program. Under a newly implemented winter-use plan, last winter was the first season since 2003 that allowed sledders to tour Yellowstone without a commercial guide. Despite relatively warmer temperatures and sparse snow, winter recreational visits park-wide increased by 14 percent over the previous year. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone seeks comments on winter-use plan

A year after managing winter travel by snowmobiles and snow coaches under a newly adopted program, Yellowstone National Park is seeking public comments on proposed revisions to the plan. Park managers said discussion about the draft Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan is part of an effort to continually improve the management of winter use in the park using the best available science and public input. The draft plan will be available for public review and comment until August 21, 2015. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone opens more routes to snow vehicles

Yellowstone National Park is opening additional groomed roads after seeing snowfall every day this week. Commercial and non-commercially guided snowmobiles and commercial snow coaches with rubber tracks or large tires may now travel all the way from Mammoth Hot Springs south through Norris to Madison, and from Norris east to Canyon Junction continuing south all the way to West Thumb. Snowmobiles and all types of snowcoaches may travel from the park’s South Entrance through West Thumb to Old Faithful. Continue Reading →

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New contracts bring changes to Yellowstone winter tour business

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The business landscape for winter tour operators in Yellowstone National Park saw a shake-up this week as the National Park Service awarded a series of concessions contracts that will remain in effect for the next decade. Some longtime snowmobile and snow coach operators were selected to continue guiding winter visitors into Yellowstone, while many others with decades of experience were not among those awarded new contracts. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone and Grand Teton open for winter season

Doug Kraus, a firefighter who lives in Mammoth, skis into the backcountry Friday near Top Notch Peak.

The winter season kicks off today in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, as entrances open to snow coaches, snowmobiles, skiers and hikers along the snow-covered roads through both parks. A mix of travel and recreational activities are allowed on different roads and trails in both parks. 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. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone invites proposals for winter tours by snowmobile, snow coach

The National Park Service has released a prospectus soliciting proposals from businesses interested in providing guided, interpretive over-snow vehicle tours of Yellowstone National Park. A total of 23 new contracts will be awarded and put into place for the 2014-2015 winter season. They will take the place of 13 concession contracts for guided interpretive snow coach tours and 21 commercial use authorizations for guided interpretive snowmobile tours currently in place in Yellowstone. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone winter tour operators wary of new concessions contracts

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Yellowstone National Park managers passed a major milestone last week with the release of a final winter-use rule that appears to have gained widespread acceptance as a workable solution to 15 years of ongoing legal challenges over snowmobile travel in the park. But it's unlikely park planners will have much time to celebrate their success, as there is a large piece of the winter-use puzzle that remains unsolved. Continue Reading →

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Final rule for winter travel in Yellowstone gains widespread approval

Two people share a snowmobile during a January 2012 trip into Yellowstone National Park.

CODY, WYO. — After more than 15 years of contentious debate over snowmobile travel in Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service on Tuesday released a final winter-use plan that appears to have a solid chance of avoiding legal challenges. The latest plan follows six previous failed attempts and a total of more than 1.1 million public comments. Environmental groups have said snowmobiles are loud, dirty and stressful for animals. Tour operators have said increasing travel restrictions have made it difficult to stay in business. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone Park releases proposed winter-use rule for public comment

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The National Park Service on Tuesday released for public comment a proposed rule outlining the use of snowmobiles and snow coaches in Yellowstone National Park. The rule will eventually become the basis for how winter use is managed in Yellowstone. Similar rules proposed over the past decade have been subject to legal challenges from environmental organizations, tourism industry groups and state and local government agencies. Continue Reading →

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Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk wins praise for outreach on winter use

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk has accepted a temporary position as interim president of the National Park Foundation in Washington, D.C.

As another winter season in Yellowstone National Park begins, it might be understandable if some local residents are pessimistic about resolving long-standing disputes over snowmobiles in the park and other related winter-use issues. Local tourism workers and environmental advocates have had front-row seats to more than a decade of public debate and court challenges over the effects of snowmobiles in the park, as well as whether to maintain access over Sylvan Pass, at the park's East Entrance. But surprisingly, gateway community business leaders are expressing optimism—even satisfaction—with the direction park managers are taking on winter use. And not just because the most recent draft plan calls for continued snowmobile access and keeping Sylvan Pass open. Continue Reading →

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