Yellowstone National Park Won't Let Visitors Do This, Starting Tuesday
Traveling through the park will be more difficult.
A trip to Yellowstone National Park is at the top of many a bucket list: The park's seemingly endless offerings help it attract nearly five million visitors annually. But as anyone who has traveled to Yellowstone knows well, there are rules that must be followed, which park rangers enforce to keep you and the park's 2.2 million acres safe and protected. Now, officials have alerted visitors to something they'll no longer be permitted to do as of next week. Read on to find out what's prohibited at Yellowstone starting Tuesday.
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If you want to see all of Yellowstone, it's a good idea to drive.
One of the best ways to experience all that Yellowstone has to offer is by driving through the park. The intricate road systems take you to and from major attractions like Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and Mammoth Hot Springs. But in June, Yellowstone endured record-breaking floods, which led to the evacuation of 10,000 visitors and devastated several aspects of the park's infrastructure—including its roads.
All five entrances to the park were closed in the flood's immediate aftermath, and traffic flow was disrupted for months. The Northeast Entrance Road, near Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, remained inaccessible until Oct. 15, when it was reopened for the first time since the flood. All damaged sections of the road were repaved, except for one portion near Trout Lake, according to a release from the park.
At the time, approximately 99 percent of the park's roads were open, but next week, access will again be restricted.
Changes are being made in advance of winter's arrival.
You've got limited time to explore the majority of Yellowstone National Park by car in 2022, park officials announced in an Oct. 26 news release. Oct. 31 will be the final day for visitors to drive on "most roads," as nearly all of them will be closed to vehicle traffic as of Nov. 1.
This applies to 10 roads in total, namely those from Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris; Norris to Canyon Village; Canyon Village to Lake Village; the East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass); Lake Village to West Thumb; the South Entrance to West Thumb; West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass); Old Faithful to Madison; the West Entrance to Madison; and Madison to Norris.
The West, South, and East entrances will also be closed on Tuesday, according to the release.
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These roads generally close for a few months in the winter.
Road and entrance closures are nothing new—they are shut down every year "to prepare them for the winter season and snowmobile and snowcoach travel," the release states. Visitors will have the option to explore the park via these alternative methods from Dec. 15 through mid-March, and roads will remain closed until April or May.
"Inclement weather" already caused the road between Tower Junction and Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass) to close on Oct. 21. According to an earlier press release from Oct. 6, the road was anticipated to stay open until Oct. 31, but officials warned that early snow could move that date closer.
Winter driving access is limited to specific areas of Yellowstone.
While driving is limited at Yellowstone during the late fall and winter, it's not entirely impossible. According to the Oct. 26 release, the road connecting the North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana, and the Northeast Entrance (via Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Junction, and Lamar Valley) remain open all year.
While the Northeast Entrance opened earlier this month, the North Entrance remains closed to vehicles, as repairs continue on a strip of Old Gardiner Road connecting the entrance and Mammoth Hot Springs. According to park officials, work is expected to be completed by Nov. 1, at which point the entrance will reopen to regular traffic.
If you're planning winter travel to Yellowstone, bear in mind that it can be dangerous, and you'll want to be prepared. Park officials ask that visitors prepare for changing weather conditions, especially inclement weather that can lead to temporary road closures. These closures and restrictions "can occur at any time without notice," officials say, so you should be flexible with your travel plans. Park services are also limited, and it's recommended that you check seasonal operating hours and sign up for Yellowstone road alerts by texting "82190" to 888-77.