Dunraven Pass

Reader Request: Can I Avoid Cliff-Hugging Roads in Yellowstone’s Northern Loop?

Remember, Yellowstone National Park resides in a caldera surrounded by mountain ranges. To make your way through the Park means driving through a mountain pass or three.

How you handle some of the curves is up to you. True, it’s not like it was a generation ago when some of the narrower stretches of road over the passes were barely wide enough to allow two cars to pass. And some stretches of road will make you think you’re just this close from toppling over the edge, unprotected by a guard rail.

If driving on cliff-hugging roads truly bothers you, then consider avoiding three stretches of road: the Sylvan Pass, Dunraven Pass and the Beartooth Pass. The road through Sylvan Pass isn’t very long, but various windy stretches are rated at 25 MPH and twist their away up and over the pass. The Dunraven Pass, connecting Tower and Canyon, soars to the highest points of road in the Park and features stretches of highway like the Mae West region, known for its curves. And the Beartooth Pass is renowned for its winding stretches: it’s arguably the most scenic highway in America, but it’s been known to give even experienced drivers white knuckles on the first drive. It’s virtually impossible to do the northern loop of the Grand Loop Road without encountering cliff-hugging stretches: you’ll find them south of Mammoth as well. But don’t worry: they’re safe, they’re well-engineered, and most folks don’t mind when drivers slow down and drive at their comfort level. The only no-no: don’t cross over that center line, no matter how nervous you are. If it really bothers you, avoid the northern loop and stick to the southern loop, entering at the West Entrance and sticking to Old Faithful, West Thumb and the Yellowstone Lake area.

Have a question as you’re planning an upcoming to visit to Yellowstone National Park? We’ll try and help! Send it to editors@augustpublications.com.

Photo of the cyclist on the Dunraven Pass courtesy of the National Park Service.

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