Yellowstone National Park Won't Let Visitors Do This, Starting Oct. 11
Your travel options will be limited after this date.
Fall has officially arrived, meaning that peak travel season for U.S. national parks has come to a close. That's not to say that these destinations aren't worth visiting when the weather cools, as foliage is known to be particularly spectacular at parks across the country. And Yellowstone National Park is a sight to see at any time of the year, boasting some of the most famous attractions, including Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring. But according to park officials, certain changes are imminent, which visitors will want to be aware of. Read on to find out what you won't be able to do, starting Oct. 11.
You can explore Yellowstone from the comfort of your car.
Driving through Yellowstone is one of the best ways to see and experience all that the park has to offer. Per the page outlining roads at Yellowstone, there are five entrances to the park: the West, North, South, East, and Northeast. There are no shuttles within the park, according to the travel blog We're In The Rockies, so having a car is actually a huge plus if you want to explore all of the scenic loops available at Yellowstone.
But starting Oct. 11, visitors are going to be a bit more limited.
You won't be able to get into the park this way.
An Oct. 6 news release from Yellowstone National Park states that come Oct. 11, Beartooth Highway (US-212), which connects Red Lodge and Cooke City, Montana, will be closed to public vehicles. This road is where you'll find the Northeast entrance to the park.
Depending on the weather, the roadway from Tower Fall to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass) will stay open through Oct. 31, so long as early snow doesn't interrupt traffic on the roadway and lead to an earlier closure. With the arrival of November, visitors will have even fewer routes to choose from at the park.
Most roads at Yellowstone close come November.
Per the recent news release, Yellowstone plans to close most park roads on Nov. 1, including the West Entrance to Madison Junction; Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful; Norris to Canyon Village; East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass); Canyon Village to Lake Village; South Entrance to West Thumb; Lake Village to West Thumb; and West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass).
These roads and four out of the five park entrances—excluding the North Entrance—are typically closed to vehicles from early November through late April, due to the large amounts of snow the park gets. The park stays open year-round, however, and the roads allow some access for snowmobiles and snowcoaches between mid-December and mid-March, according to Yellowstone's website.
The road between the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through the park to Cooke City, Montana is typically the sole road that remains open to cars all year long, but this year, weather interrupted that.
Historic flooding disrupted traffic flow for months.
During the early summer, Yellowstone National Park experienced unprecedented flooding. On June 14, water levels in the park reached a record high of 11.5 feet, per the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. According to statements made by Cam Sholly, superintendent of Yellowstone, during a press conference, the flooding occurred following two to three inches of rain the weekend prior, as well as 5.5 inches of melting snow from warming temperatures.
Over 10,000 visitors were evacuated, and due to significant damage, all five entrances and the park as a whole were closed. At the time, Sholly anticipated that entrances in the park's northern section could remain inaccessible until the very end of October.
Predictions weren't that far off, as the North and Northeast entrances are still closed to vehicles. But according to the Oct. 6 press release, this will soon change. The road between Tower Junction and the Northeast entrance in Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana, will reopen to traffic on Oct. 15. As for the road between the North Entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs, it's set to open "no later than Nov. 1, 2022, to regular traffic."
If you're planning a trip to Yellowstone in the coming weeks, be sure to do your research before you venture out. The park has a page dedicated to providing the most up-t0-date information on road closures and ongoing recovery efforts from the flood.