Yellowstone is open (access limited)

Conditions in the park can change quickly, especially when winter storms hit during spring and fall. The map on this post (click title) lists current road status and highlights construction projects that might affect travel plans. Temporary road closures and delays may not be shown on this map.

2018-2019 Winter Opening Dates

Conditions permitting, roads will open to oversnow travel by snowmobile and snowcoach at 8 am on the following dates:

  • December 15: West Entrance to Old Faithful, Mammoth to Old Faithful, Canyon to Norris, Canyon to Lake, Old Faithful to West Thumb, South Entrance to Lake, Lake to Lake Butte Overlook.
  • December 22: East Entrance to Lake Butte Overlook (Sylvan Pass)
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Yellowstone History Journal

Yellowstone History Journal 2019, is now available in gift shops in Yellowstone National Park, dozens of other Yellowstone area stores, and online. The publication is the first-ever journal devoted exclusively to the history of the world’s first national park.

Published annually, this beautiful, premium, high-quality, full color, keepsake publication captures the essence of Yellowstone National Park’s unparalleled magnificence and storied past.

Bruce Gourley is the editor of Yellowstone History Journal.

Contributing writers include Jeremy Johnston, Kim Allen Scott, Ruth Quinn, Larry Lancaster, Kathryn McKee, Tina Schlaile and Bruce Gourley.

For more information, click here. Read the rest

What are the Chances of Seeing Steamboat Geyser Erupt?
Steam Phase of the May 23, 2005 Eruption of Steamboat Geyser. Photo by Bruce Gourley.

Yellowstone National Park’s Steamboat Geyser, the largest geyser in the world, rarely erupts. Yet it has done so three times this spring: March 15, April 19, and April 27.

Although the three recent eruptions are relatively small compared to major eruptions of the past, the April events discharged roughly ten times the volume of water as does Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone’s most famous geyser.

Scientists are not certain why Steamboat erupted multiple instances in a short time span, but note that the eruptions do not represent any known change in the underlying Yellowstone supervolcano. Scientific studies indicate that the supervolcano will likely remain stable for thousands of years.

Steamboat Geyser has a long history of inconsistent but sometimes clustered eruptions. From 1878 to 1960, there were only 7 known eruptions. The years 1964, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1989, 2002 and 2003 witnessed multiple eruptions. Yet during the time span of 1961 through 2003, only 6 eruptions occurred apart from multiple-year events. Since that time, 3 singular eruptions have occurred: 2005 (pictured, steam phase), 2013 and 2014.

What are the chances of you seeing Steamboat Geyser erupt during a visit this year? It’s impossible to say. But whether you witness a Steamboat eruption or not, any visit to Yellowstone National Park is spectacular. Read the rest

Get Ready, Get Set, Celebrate the Opening of Yellowstone
Old Faithful Geyser soon after the opening of a new spring season in Yellowstone. Photo by Bruce Gourley.

Friday, April 20, is a day that many Yellowstone National Park lovers around the world have anxiously been awaiting: the day select roads in the park will open for the 2018 spring season.

More than five months after park roads (with the exception of the northern entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs to northeast entrance, which is open year-round) closed to auto traffic in early November, the public will be able to easily access Old Faithful, Canyon and other destinations within the world’s oldest and foremost national park.

Locals especially enjoy the less-crowded months of April and May. In April the boardwalks around Old Faithful Geyser are often mostly deserted. And in May, baby bison and elk are the stars among the park’s wild occupants.

The following park roads will open on April 20:

West entrance to Madison
Madison to Old Faithful
Norris to Canyon Village

Be advised that Madison Hot Springs to Norris may or may not open on April 20 due to road conditions.

Road updates and alerts will be available at Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Canyon Village, and West Yellowstone visitor centers, by calling (307) 344-2117, or by texting “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).

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Yellowstone News: Grizzlies, Bison, Fees and Windows

From wildlife to windows, this early February winter season week in Yellowstone National Park witnessed a wide range of news items.

Grizzly bear advocates were heartened to learn that Montana wildlife officials are recommending that the state not hold a grizzly bear hunt this year in the wake of the previously-endangered animals losing federal protection in the three states surrounding Yellowstone — Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will make the recommendation to its governing board on February 15.

An estimated 700 grizzlies roam the three state region, the population anchored in Yellowstone. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Martha Williams has indicated that Montana is committed to the grizzly’s long-term recovery. Meanwhile, five pending lawsuits filed by environmental groups and Native American tribes have challenged the animals’ removal from the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuits claim that grizzlies remain endangered from the effects of climate change and changing diet patterns that generate more conflicts with humans.

The federal status of bison, meanwhile, took a new turn when U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must reconsider a 2015 decision that block Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone’s bison population. According to the ruling, the decision did not take into account a scientific study indicating that the park’s bison population of some 5,000 encompassing two herds might not be large enough to be self-sustaining without federal protections.

At the same time but unrelated to the judicial decision, the activist group Buffalo Field Campaign sued the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in federal court for illegally withholding information concerning the testing of a birth control drug on select Yellowstone bison in an effort to limit the spread of brucellosis, a disease infecting some park bison that is believed by some persons to be capable of transmission to domestic cattle. Read the rest

Another Reason to Bring Your Smartphone to Yellowstone
Roosevelt Arch - Yellowstone National Park
Roosevelt Arch – Yellowstone National Park

The world’s first national park is now embracing decidedly 21st century technology at park entrances.

Starting this month, visitors who travel to Yellowstone National Park with their smartphones in pocket — and who doesn’t travel with a smartphone these days? — have the option of purchasing a digital pass online prior to their visit, and then displaying the digital pass on their smartphone at the entrance booth.

For those who prefer paper over digital, online passes can be printed out and used at park entrances.

Seven-day passes to Yellowstone National Park are $30 for private, non-commercial vehicles, $25 for motorcycles and snowmobiles, and $15 if entering the park by foot, bicycle, skis or snowshoes.

Annual Yellowstone passes cost $60.

Annual National Parks and Federal Lands passes, allowing access to over 2,000 federal recreation sites, are $80. Senior citizens have the option of purchasing an annual National Parks and Federal Lands pass for $20, or a lifetime pass for $80. Read the rest