Changes mulled for Yellowstone winter operating schedules

We may see some small changes to upcoming Yellowstone winter operating schedules, as the Park Service is seeking comments on opening dates and entrance-gate hours.

The changes are pretty minor, to be honest, and we can’t see them raising the hackles of too many Yellowstone purists. In fact, they are united in an attempt to address safety in the Park. But nevertheless these changes to the Yellowstone winter operating schedules are presented for public comment.

The first would change the opening and closing dates for the East Entrance to align with other park entrances. Under this change, according to a Park Service press release, the East Entrance would open no earlier than December 15 and close no later than March 15. The existing seasonal closures of December 15-21 and March 2-15 were originally implemented due to avalanche safety concerns on Sylvan Pass. With many years of implementation, the NPS now has the operational capacity and expertise to safely open the pass on December 15 and to keep it open until March 15. This change will standardize opening and closing dates for the entire park.

The second would change the daily opening time for the South Entrance from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. The current opening time means that contract holders/operators leave Jackson, Wyoming, well before sunrise, and before road conditions can be properly assessed and hazards mitigated by NPS staff.

The proposed changes do not require revisions to the Final Winter Use Rule.

Comments must be received by October 29, 2020. Comments may be submitted online here or by mail. Comments will not be accepted by fax, email, or other means. Mail comments to: Compliance Office, Attention: Winter Use Adaptive Management, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190.  

Photo of sunrise and sun dog over Madison River by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service.

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