This Friday, parts of Yellowstone National Park will be opening up to vehicle traffic.
Visitors will be able to use the North Entrance and drive down to both Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Select services will also open April 15: The Geyser Grill and the Bear Den Gift Shop in Old Faithful and the Yellowstone Adventure Store in Canyon Village. Read here for the full list of opening and closing dates for 2016.
Further, visitors coming to the Park April 16 through April 24 will be able to get in for free, in honor of National Park Week.
Visiting Yellowstone in Spring
Spring, which technically starts when crews start plowing the roads in March, is a great time to visit Yellowstone National Park—especially if you’re looking to avoid large crowds or excessive heat. Indeed, it’s a popular time for cyclists, who get the roads to themselves for a few weeks every season.
Even so, if you plan on coming to Yellowstone either during National Park Week or before Memorial Day Weekend (when the summer season traditionally kicks off) you should keep a few things in mind.
First, traveling conditions. Since Yellowstone is mostly mountainous, the weather can be quite spontaneous. Keep to the speed limit, or even a little below, especially in the face of an abrupt storm. Also, dress in layers as temperatures variate wildly throughout the day.
Also, be warned: you might not be able to go out on the basins around Old Faithful or along the Mammoth-Old Faithful road, as there will might still be snow on the boardwalks there.
You should also stay aware of wildlife, especially bears, which started emerging from dens earlier in the year. Park rules mandate you keep at least 100 yards between yourself and animals like bears and wolves. If you want a close up shot, pack a telephoto lens. Don’t try getting a selfie with Smokey or Yogi. Personally, we recommend packing a pair of binoculars.
The same goes for other wildlife such as bison and elk; visitors must stay at least 25 yards away from these kind of wildlife.
With the coming of spring comes road construction in Yellowstone. Indeed, there are several projects currently on the docket, which will involve partial/full closures throughout the season.
Currently, construction is scheduled on the road between Roaring Mountain and the Moose exhibit 4.7 miles to the north. Starting mid-May, there will be possible 30-minute delays. June 1 to September 11, the road will be closed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. After 10 p.m. September 11 to 7 a.m. October 7, the road will be closed entirely.
During the closure, a detour will be available via the Dunraven Pass between Canyon and Tower.
You can read more about current road conditions in Yellowstone National Park here. If you need information on-site, the information desks at the Albright (Mammoth), Old Faithful, Canyon, and West Yellowstone Visitor Centers are open.