Roads to Canyon and Old Faithful open April 17
by Yellowstone National Park
April 14, 2009
Visitors will once again be able to drive into portions of the interior of Yellowstone National Park starting this weekend. The roads through the North and West Entrances to Norris, Madison, Canyon and Old Faithful are set to re-open to car and RV traffic as scheduled at 8:00 a.m., Friday, April 17.
Travel between Madison and Norris through Gibbon Canyon will be impacted this year by a major road construction project. Visitors can expect up to 30-minute delays from the time the road opens to travel on through the summer. This section of road will also be closed to travel between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. every night from May 26 through August 16. There will be no construction delays or night time closures during the Memorial Day and Independence Day holiday weekends.
Removal of an existing bridge and construction of a new span will require the road between Norris and Madison to be completely closed to all travel beginning August 17 until it reopens to snowmobile and snowcoach travel in December. During this period, visitors should allow extra travel time in case they need to reroute through West Thumb and Canyon. Maps and additional construction details will be available at all visitor centers and online at www.nps.gov/yell.
The road linking Canyon, Fishing Bridge and the East Entrance opens on Friday, May 1.
Travel from the South Entrance to Grant, West Thumb and Fishing Bridge is set to begin Friday, May 8, with travel from West Thumb over Craig Pass to Old Faithful expected to begin shortly thereafter, once repairs are completed on the Isa Lake Bridge. Travel from Cooke City over Colter Pass to the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and the Long Lake gate typically also opens by mid-May. The balance of the Beartooth Highway to Red Lodge, Montana, and the road between Tower Fall and Canyon over Dunraven Pass opens the Friday before the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, weather permitting.
Very limited visitor services will be open for several weeks. Due to the deep snow present in the park’s interior, walking on trails including those along the Canyon Rim, or on boardwalks through thermal areas, will be difficult or impossible for some time.
The park also has several seasonal Bear Management Area closures designed to reduce encounters with bears in areas that have a high density of elk and bison carcasses. Several areas including Midway Geyser Basin and Fountain Paint Pots will remain closed through the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.
Park crews have to clear 198 miles of main road, 124 miles of secondary roads, and 125 acres of parking lots inside the park, as well as 31 miles of the Beartooth Highway outside the park’s Northeast Entrance, each spring.
Yellowstone's weather is very unpredictable. Visitors should be prepared for a wide range of winter and spring weather conditions, including plows clearing snow from the roads, and temporary road closures. Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.