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Yellowstone snow plowing, 2013

Yellowstone National Park opens for “summer”

Though there’s still plenty of snow on the ground, Yellowstone National Park is open for business today, with the West and North Entrances providing access to the Old Faithful area.

It’s been a confusing spring for fans of America’s oldest national park: sequestration caused Park officials to announce that winter plowing would be delayed because of a lack of funds, but communities in the area (Cody and Jackson, Wyoming) chipped in to underwrite the costs of preparing the roads for a spring cleanup.

If you go, be prepared for some snow, especially in the southern part of the Park. There’s still snow on the ground around Old Faithful Geyser, for instance. And with sudden snowstorms popping up this spring, be sure to pack

You can consider today a “soft” opening of the Park, with precious few services available. Restroom facilities will be available at Madison Junction and Old Faithful, with pay-at-the-pump fuel available 24 hours a day at both the Upper and Lower Service Stations.

The Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, the Geyser Grill and the Bear Den Gift Shop will open for the season on Friday, April 26.  The Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Cabins and Restaurant, the Old Faithful Upper Store and the Lower Service Station convenience store all open for the season on Friday, May 3.

If you can’t make it over the weekend, consider a trip during the coming week. Park entrance fees will be waived April 22-26 as part of National Park Week.  A seven-day pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is normally $25 for a private, non-commercial vehicle.

Weather permitting, the road from Norris Junction through Canyon and Fishing Bridge to the park’s East Entrance will open to travel on Friday, May 3 as originally scheduled.  Travel through the South Entrance to Grant Village, West Thumb Junction and on to Fishing Bridge is set to open as originally scheduled on Friday, May 10, given favorable weather conditions.  The road from West Thumb Junction to Old Faithful will open sometime after May 10.

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

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