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Plowing to the East Entrance
East Entrance road, 2011

Snow Still Factor in Slow Yellowstone Spring, as South Entrance Opens Tomorrow

It took National Park Service crews weeks to prep the East Entrance for an opening last Friday, as the heaviest snowpack in years made plowing a difficult chore, to say the least. At that time travelers were warned that conditions were good, but not great, and that travel could be impacted by changing conditions.

That prophesy ended up being coming true, as the Sylvan Pass ended up being closed part of this week after slow slides forced the summoning of plows to clean up the mess. It could happen at any time, especially now that warmer temperature are creeping their way into Yellowstone for the weekend. The forecasts include some temps in the 60s — for the first time this spring — which could certainly muck up the proceedings. (With snow on the ground, a temp in the 60s still means plenty of chills. Bring warm clothing if you’re hitting the Park: temps at night are still around freezing.) Expect plenty of hazards on the roads: runoff freezes overnight and becomes an ice patch, rivers and streams flow past their banks, and trails and walkways are blocked by snow. You can also expect temporary road closures and delays while NPS crews deal with these circumstances.

You can also expect a few more folks on the road, as the South Entrance opens tomorrow at 8 a.m. It’s the last opening of the year, with all roads in the Park accessible. Weather, too, plays a factor in folks from Jackson hoping to hit Yellowstone via Grand Teton National Park and the Rockefeller Highway: Heavy snowpack in Grand Teton is forcing NPS officials to monitor several locations for flooding. So expect a wet drive if you’re coming from the south.

The end of the month sees the last major regional opening when the Beartooth Highway opens for business on Memorial Day weekend.

Image courtesy of the National Park Service.

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