How early is too early?

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rzrpirate
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How early is too early?

Post by rzrpirate » Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:31 am

We are putting together a trip for the spring. We have been to Yellowstone quite a few times but never early in the season. This is the year to do this. We have total flexibility in departure times and I know snow amounts always change. What advice can everybody offer as to when we should go to maximize the early season animal activity but not be effected by the weather conditions to much. Again, we can change our plans at the last minute if late season snow hits. Thanks all.



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andrew
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Re: How early is too early?

Post by andrew » Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:48 am

I like to go the weekend Hayden Valley opens.


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Mike
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Re: How early is too early?

Post by Mike » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:06 am

I usually go the weeks before Mother's day(last week of April -first week of May) that allows a week in the Northern Range and then the opening of the Hayden Valley and the east entrance.The crowds are smaller but I notice every year that the early season crowds get a little bigger every year.

The positives are smaller crowds,bison are starting to give birth,so red dogs are everywhere which brings out the grizzly bears,black bear cubs are having their first exposure to the world,smaller animals(fox,badgers,et al) seem to be more visible.Weather is cool and no mosquitoes !!!

The negatives are lack of choices in campgrounds and some hotels,most roads are still closed,if you plan on going to the Tetons you might have to go through Idaho to get there as the south entrance is always the last to open.Weather can go from pleasant to snowy in a flash.If your taking landscape photos the grasses are still a little brown,aspen trees are just starting to bud,no wild flowers.If your hiking some trails will be still blocked by snow and rivers are at peak and some are not safe to cross and not very good for fishing



RikWriter
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Re: How early is too early?

Post by RikWriter » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:32 am

I usually go right around the time the road opens to the Hayden Valley. The downsides are that most campgrounds aren't open, a lot of services aren't open, you miss the elk calves being born and you miss a lot of the grizzly COYs emerging.



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Mike
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Re: How early is too early?

Post by Mike » Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:06 am

rzrpirate wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 8:31 am
we can change our plans at the last minute if late season snow hits.

Most times late season snows do not last long ,the snow is gone in a matter of hours or the next day



rzrpirate
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Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:14 pm

Re: How early is too early?

Post by rzrpirate » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:49 am

Thanks everybody, This helps a lot. Does Hayden Valley and East entrance open the same date each year or vary with snow cover?



yellvet
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Re: How early is too early?

Post by yellvet » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:51 am

If you want to visit the Park early in the spring, it's important to keep a close eye on the current weather and road conditions in and around the Park as well as on the status of the Park's general stores, service stations and campgrounds. Most don't open until late May or June so Park services will be fairly limited if you go any sooner. A few might open sooner but most Yellowstone services are pretty much weather-dependent. So you have to be flexible with your travel plans and always have a Plan B lined up, in the vent Mother Nature doesn't want to cooperate with your itinerary. Here's the YNP link that will give you more info on the status of the campgrounds:
https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

The Official Yellowstone website also has a web page that shows the opening/closing date for the general stores and service stations. The Mammoth Campground is the only campground that I know of, that is open on a year-round basis. The Baker's Hole Campground (approximately 6 miles north of West Yellowstone on Hwy 191) is usually open as well but it would be wise to start checking on the available Park campgrounds and services in January and continue checking on a daily basis, since most services are weather dependent.

Historically, the wettest months of the year in the Yellowstone region are May and June. That being the case, you can get winter snow conditions at any time from April through the end of June. So, if you're going any sooner, ya gotta be prepared with respect to your clothing, your vehicle and emergency supplies.
Tip...Never go below a half a tank of gas whenever you're in the Park in the spring. The Tower gas station near Tower Junction usually has gas available for visitors 24/7 but it's self service only and you have to use a credit card. So, spring Park visitors need to make sure that they've got an active credit card. Service stations are very few and far between inside the Park, especially, during the spring. So ya gotta make sure that you've got plenty of gas to get in and out of the Park safely. If you've got the space, put a big bag of kitty litter and a snow shovel in the trunk of your vehicle. The added weight will help stabilize your car if the roads are icy or in the event you should get stuck or slide off the road. Kitty litter works great for melting the ice/snow that's under your tires and usually gives you enough traction to get your vehicle back on he road (as long as your car isn't buried in snow). That's why it's good to keep an emergency list handy of who to call and their phone number in the event you should ever need emergency help. Cell phone service is spotty in the Park. That's why it's important to keep your gas tank full and keep some emergency/survival gear, a first aid kit, a HD sleeping bag, extra hat and gloves, a couple of blankets and some emergency food supplies, a snow shovels and tire chains in your car. Hopefully, you won't need them. But if you do, you'll be mighty glad that you've got 'em. Spring is a wonderful time of year to be in the Park. But you also have to be prepared for anything that Mother Nature may want to throw at you....snow, rain, hail, flash floods, ice pellets or even a glorious sun-shiny, 60 degree day. It's the unpredictable nature of Yellowstone and its weather that makes it such a magical place, where lasting memories are created. And if you don't like camping in the cold, there are plenty of motels in the nearby communities of Mammoth, Cooke City, Silvergate, West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Red Lodge, Livingston and Bozeman that have very nice, reasonably priced rooms/cabins available in the early spring. Some of them consider early spring their "low season" so you may be able to find some really good deals or bargain room rates. Keep us posted and be sure to post a trip report. Would love to see some early spring Park pix.



rzrpirate
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Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:14 pm

Re: How early is too early?

Post by rzrpirate » Thu Sep 21, 2017 4:56 pm

Thanks Yellvet, These are good recommendations. Bad preparation can turn a minor inconvenience into a costly waste of time and money. I will be in four wheel drive which helps some. I'm going to do a southern route from Ga and catch some Utah parks on the way so I will have to keep an eye on the weather as I'm on the road. Thanks and I will be picking your brain plenty as time gets closer.



rzrpirate
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:14 pm

Re: How early is too early?

Post by rzrpirate » Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:09 pm

If I am able to time my trip and stay in Mammoth for several days prior to SC opening how hard is it to get in Slough Creek the day it opens?



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