Yellowstone National Park’s South Entrance and the road between West Thumb and Old Faithful over Craig Pass opens today, with all five entrances now open for the season.
With the opening, visitors will be able to travel through all five park entrances to popular destinations including Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin, and Fishing Bridge.
Visitors should be aware that spring in Yellowstone is very unpredictable and often brings cold temperatures, high winds, and falling snow. Extreme caution should be used when driving as road clearing operations can be ongoing at any time throughout the park. In the case of extreme weather conditions, temporary road closures are also possible with little or no advance warning.
Yellowstone’s East Entrance opened for visitor travel on May 2. However, deep snowpack above Sylvan Pass has the potential to release large, heavy, wet snow slides which can reach and cover the road, especially under sunny, warm conditions. Yellowstone avalanche forecasters are closely monitoring the weather, snowpack, moisture, and all of the complex factors that go into determining the safety of travel across Sylvan Pass. Changing weather conditions or warmer temperatures may result in temporary or extended closures of the East Entrance road. Closures may be implemented at any time with little or no advance notice.
Earlier this week, the section of US-212 outside the park’s Northeast Entrance between Cooke City, Mont. and the junction with the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway (WY-296) opened for the season. Crews from the National Park Service and the Montana Department of Transportation have begun work clearing US-212 between the intersection of WY-296 over Beartooth Pass to Red Lodge, Mont. Both this section of road and the road linking Canyon and Tower-Roosevelt over Dunraven Pass are scheduled to open in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, weather permitting.
If you’re heading in, be warned there’s construction that could impact your journeys. If you’re heading to the South Entrance via Grand Teton National Park, be aware of construction within that Park: here’s a summary of the changes. Construction is underway north of the entrance to the Norris Campground on the road to Mammoth Hot Springs. A 5.4 mile section of the road is being rebuilt, as is the bridge over the Gardner River. Visitors should expect daytime delays of up to 30 minutes, with nightly closures between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. beginning June 1. This section of road will be closed to all traffic from 11 p.m. September 14 to 7 a.m. on September 30.
Looking farther ahead: Work will also begin this year to replace the Isa Lake Bridge, which is on the road between Old Faithful and West Thumb Junction. This section of road will close to through travel for the season at 6 a.m. on September 2.
The only major throughway in the area still closed: the Beartooth Highway, connecting Cooke City and the Northeast Entrance with Red Lodge. The traditional opening for the Beartooth Highway is Memorial Day weekend.