There will be minimal services open (you can see a full list of 2011 opening and closing dates here): the Old Faithful Visitor Center, the Albright Visitor Center, the Mammoth General Store, the Geyser Grill at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Yellowstone Adventures Shop in Canyon. You will be able to buy gas using 24-hour pay at the pump stations at Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Junction, Canyon and Old Faithful. However, no hotels are open (though, remember, the Mammoth Campground is open year-round, and there are hotels/motels open in West Yellowstone and Gardiner), and the food choices are limited. And there’s still plenty of snow on the ground, as evidenced by the photo at the top of this story: it’s a screencap from the Old Faithful Visitor Center webcam from yesterday.
But so what? You’ll basically have the Park to yourself. There will no hordes of folks swarming any geyser basin, no tourists elbowing their way to take a photo of a bison or elk. It’s the perfect day trip. And, as a bonus, admission to Yellowstone National Park will be free April 16-24 as part of National Park Week.
The rest of the Park is slated to open in May, in stages. Right now the East Gate and the Old Faithful Inn are slated to open May 6, despite the two feet of new snow falling in the East Gate area the past few days. (That’s not the high point; Lewis Lake Divide notched 19 inches.) As always, call the Park before making concrete travel plans.
We’re guessing there will be lots of snow left even on May 6. Here are two shots from the Colter Pass, at Big Moose Resort, taken April 12, right after the latest round of snowfall:
(Photos courtesy of Big Moose Resort.)