Majority of park roads close Nov. 5

By Jessianne Castle EBS Contributor

BOZEMAN – For two, sometimes three, weeks in November, cyclists have nearly exclusive access to Yellowstone National Park while managers transition from the summer to the winter season.

This year’s biking period begins Monday, Nov. 5 when all park roads close to vehicles at 8 a.m. except the road between the north and northeast entrances, which remains open year-round. Once snow consistently flies, usually by mid- to late-November, the roads close to bikes to allow for snow accumulation that accommodates snowmobiles and snowcats.

During the brief biking period, which also occurs during the spring shoulder season, cyclists may encounter the occasional Park Service or concessionaire vehicle, but otherwise the roads are wide open. Those wishing to do other activities, like roller ski or walk, are also welcome during this time.

From West Yellowstone, consider one of two routes, either traveling to Madison junction and go south to Old Faithful, or head north and travel as far as Tower Fall or the Northeast entrance near Cooke City. With these route options, bikers can pick an easy jaunt to 7-mile bridge just past West Yellowstone, or extend the trip into a day-long excursion.

The route to Old Faithful is about 30 miles one-way, and for a large portion of the ride, the road follows the Firehole River. You could stop to explore a number of geyser basins along the way, including Fountain Paint Pots and Midway Geyser Basin and the brilliant Grand Prismatic Spring.

Should you continue north from Madison Junction about 15 miles east of West Yellowstone, you’ll be able to visit Norris, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Tower Fall—a full 70-mile trip that may warrant a car shuttle. Remember that a portion of this route will remain open to cars and you can drive in from the North entrance to access the northern bike options more quickly.

Kelli Hart, co-owner of Freeheel and Wheel bicycle and ski shop in West Yellowstone, said she loves biking in Yellowstone in the fall. “It’s one of those iconic experiences,” she said, though she added that the fall season can be particularly challenging to plan due to weather.

“The weather can turn at any time and anyone that rides in there should be ready for that,” she said. For local conditions, Hart recommends visitors call Freeheel and Wheel, where they can also rent gear, as well as gloves and hats.

Visit nps.gov or call Freeheel and Wheel at (406) 646-7744 to learn more.