Road Conditions – Early Spring

Updated Monday, March 3, 2008 [See details below the map]


Early Spring Road Closure

1. Yellowstone Park

  • West Entrance: Closed to all traffic from March 9 until spring opening.
  • South Entrance: Closed to all traffic from March 9 until spring opening.
  • East Entrance: Closed to all traffic until spring opening.
  • Mammoth Hot Springs: Closed to all traffic from March 2 until spring opening.

2. Gardiner – Cooke City, Cody – Cooke City

  • Gardiner to Cooke City (N.E. Entrance road): Open all year. Snow tires or tire chains may be required. In very bad weather, follow the park plow on the morning run. The five mile entrance road from Gardiner to Mammoth Hot Springs is always open, but icy conditions (especially black ice) can occasionally make it dangerous on the steep curves. There are no services between Mammoth and Cooke City, a distance of 52 miles. The highway is usually gravelled, but icy spots are common. In clear weather long stretches of highway may be free of snow. Expect more snow from Pebble Creek to Cooke City. Street parking in Cooke CIty is permitted during the day, a municipal parking lot near the city refuse center is available for overnight and multi-day parking.
  • Cooke City: U.S. Highway 212 east from Cooke City, Montana, closed to Pilot Creek, Wyoming.
  • Beartooth Highway: Closed from 8 mi. south of Red Lodge to the junction with Wyoming 296. Snow vehicles only – bad weather cautions are extremely important.
  • Chief Joseph Highway: Wyoming 296 is open from the junction of Wyoming 120 to the junction with U.S. 212 and then west on U.S. 212 to the Pilot Creek parking area. Access to Cooke City, MT is over Colter Pass by snow vehicle only; the road is groomed. Wyoming 296 is usually plowed as needed, which means that during some storms it may not be passable for 24-36 hours. Limited services are (usually) available at Painter, Wyoming. Pilot Creek has a parking area for vehicles and snowmobile gear.

General: With the exception of the road between Gardiner, MT, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Cooke City, MT, all roads in the park are closed to vehicles (car, bus, RV, truck) during the early spring (roughly March through late April).


The Mammoth – Cooke City highway (part of the Grand Loop Road and the N.E. Entrance Road) is one of the most spectacular early spring roads in the United States, a claim made not only because of the scenery but because of highly visible bison and elk herds, plus the occasional deer, moose, coyote, antelope, and wolf. The key to safety along this slim strip of road through the white wilderness is appropriate speed for the conditions and staying alert for animals in or near the highway. (In a butting contest with bison, only the body shops win.)

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