NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
Roads in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks are opening as plow crews work through the heavy snow that’s fallen during the winter.
In Yellowstone, that means clearing snow and ice from 198 miles of main road, 124 miles of secondary roads and 125 acres of parking lots inside the park, as well as 31 miles of the Beartooth Highway outside the park’s Northeast Entrance.
Roads from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful and Canyon opened April 18, allowing visitors to drive to Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for the first time since fall.
Additional road segments in the park will open during May as road clearing operations progress, and as of press time on May 1, Yellowstone’s East Entrance is scheduled to open on May 2, and the South Entrance on May 9. The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, through Mammoth Hot Springs to the Northeast Entrance, Silver Gate and Cooke City, is open all year. The road east of Cooke City to WY-296 typically opens by mid-May.
Crews from the National Park Service and the Montana Department of Transportation are working to open US-212 over the Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge, in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Construction is underway north of the entrance to the Norris Campground on the road to Mammoth Hot Springs, with crews rebuilding both a 5.4-mile section of the road and the bridge over the Gardner River. There will be daytime delays of up to 30 minutes, and nightly closures between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. beginning June 1.
In Grand Teton National Park, the Moose, Moran and Granite Canyon entrance stations are open already. The main Teton Park Road will open May 1, and the Moose-Wilson and Signal Mountain Summit roads will open after snowmelt, with the date to be determined.
Along the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, between the two parks, Grassy Lake road is set to open June 1, but remaining snowdrifts may limit access.
The NPS warns visitors that spring weather is very unpredictable in both parks, often bringing cold temperatures, high winds and falling snow. Even cleared sections of roads can be narrow and covered with a layer of snow, ice and debris. Temporary road closures are also possible with little or no advance warning.
Due to the snow present in the park’s interior, walking on trails or on boardwalks through Yellowstone’s thermal areas may be difficult or impossible for some time.
Bears have emerged from hibernation in the Greater Yellowstone Area and are on the hunt for food. The NPS advises visitors planning to hike, ski or snowshoe to stay in groups of three of more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray. Regulations require people to stay 100 yards from both black and grizzly bears at all times.