With the opening of the 49-mile stretch of road between West Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs open today to bicyclists, we can now proclaim a start to the 2021 Yellowstone summer season–just in time for a weekend heat wave.
The following sections of the Grand Loop Road between the West Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs are now open to cycling:
- West Entrance to Madison Junction
- Madison Junction to Norris Junction
- Norris Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs, mostly: On April 2, this section of road will close to all travel from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to allow for heavy equipment operations. It will reopen at 4:30 p.m.
If weather and conditions permit, two other sections of road may eventually open to bicyclists: the six-mile stretch of road from East Entrance to the east side of Sylvan Pass, and the 22-mile stretch of road from South Entrance to West Thumb.
Bikes are not allowed on the remaining interior park roads until they start to open to public motorized vehicle access at 8 a.m. Friday, April 16.
Yeah, we know that until all roads are open and services are staffed, it’s really not the start of the 2021 Yellowstone summer season. But for those of us itching to return to Yellowstone after a rough 2020, these shoots of spring are meaningful and rejuvenating.
Just a warning: Spring bicycling is not for the faint of heart. Though the roads have been cleared, a sudden storm can drop ice or snow on a cleared path, though with a weather forecast of 50-degree weather in much of the park this weekend, that may not be a concern. Snowplows and other motorized vehicles operated by park employees or construction workers also use the road. As always, Yellowstone wildlife treat the road as their own personal walkways. And you’re on your own: you won’t have cell service on most of the open roads. You’re responsible for fixing that flat tire.
Photo from March 29, 2017 of bikers near near Swan Lake by Jacob W. Frank, courtesy National Park Service.