Park Update

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Yellowstone National Park

Non-Commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program — Yellowstone National Park Lottery is now open for winter 2014-15 permit access.

Yellowstone Self-Guided Snowmobile Tour — New Opportunity!

NEW for the first time in over 15-years is the opportunity for a limited number of people to enter Yellowstone as a self-guided group. This provision is known as the Non-Commercially Guided Snowmobile Access Program (N-CGSAP). You may now register as the guide and take your family or group into Yellowstone National Park to see the park as few people ever experience. The National Park Service is allowing up to five snowmobiles (single or double rider) to enter the park each day as a group. So grab the family and head on up to West Yellowstone this winter.

If you own a park approved snowmobile or need to rent one of ours, we are here to help make it happen.

As with most government procedures, it can get rather confusing .  So in order to make it simple, just call us at 800-221-1151 to speak with one of our reservation and vacation specialists.

The National Park Service announced the launch of the N-CGSAP on September 3, 2014.

SeeYellowstone.com recommends taking the following steps to navigate the N-CGSAP and plan your vacation effectively. If you would like information about our guided snowmobile tours, please call 800-221-1151 or click here.

    1. You must first enter the lottery selection (Sept. 3 – Oct. 3, 2014) for registered visitors on the recreation.gov website. (After completion of the lottery selection, any dates that remain open for visitors to receive permits will have them issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.) Visit www.recreation.gov and register for the dates you would like to visit Yellowstone National Park. The group leader that registers is considered the guide for that group and must be 18-years old by the first day of your visit. You must have your confirmation number and dates before going to step #2.

 

    1. Secure rental snowmobiles by contacting SeeYellowstone.com or verify that your machines meet the standards to enter Yellowstone as defined by the National Park Service. Check the approved snowmobile list here.

 

    1. Make lodging reservations in West Yellowstone. SeeYellowstone.com can make your lodging, snowmobiles, and rental clothing into a customized package for you.  By contacting our vacation planners, they can make lodging reservations at the same time you secure snowmobile rentals.

 

    1. Have each snowmobile operator complete the online Yellowstone Snowmobile Education Certification program, which will be available starting November 2014. Each operator must also have with them a state-issued driver’s license.

 

    1. Organize and gather your equipment including but not limited to snowmobile specific clothing (not ski clothing) including a helmet, and a survival kit including a complete first aid kit for each member of your party. *SeeYellowstone.com will provide a FREE required park approved first-aid and survival kit when you rent snowmobiles from us. Also when renting from us, you will receive hands-on rental machine orientation and snowmobile safety and operating instruction.

 

  1. Check in with a ranger at the appropriate gate on the morning of your trip. Snowmobiling hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.—plan to be out of the park by 9 p.m. on the last day of your trip. If you have a one-day trip, you must leave the park by 9 p.m. of that day. *All Snowmobile rentals are available beginning at 8 AM, and for safety reasons must be returned by 5 PM.
    Be aware of the weather—winter conditions can and do change rapidly in this high-mountain region. The park will not offer trip refunds due to poor or severe weather conditions.
    Give a copy of your itinerary to a trusted friend or relative in case of emergency.

Come see Yellowstone this winter, and experience sights that few people have ever seen.

Three Bear Lodge has been taking snowmobiles and snowcoaches into Yellowstone for 40 years, and we are excited about this new self-guided opportunity. Last year we introduced a new concept snowcoach, the Yellowstone Grizz. So plan to take snowmobiles one day, and then relax and take a guided tour on one of our snowcoaches the next. Click here for information about our snowcoach tours.

Winter Use UPDATE

Update: February 16th 2014
The “Winter Use” plan in Yellowstone nears completion. 

Over the past 15 years, much uncertainty regarding snowmobile and snowcoaches access has existed as Yellowstone completed a number of Environmental Impact Statement. Each of these had different outcomes. During these years public access in the winter was sometimes quite tenuous.  Through it all we have championed the charge to keep Yellowstone open.

Finally, October 23, 2013 the Federal Register published the Final Rule which provides for snowmobile and snowcoach access over the next ten years.  Once again the public will be able to plan with certainty their vacations well in advance, knowing the Park will be open.

Exciting times are ahead. The vehicles that will be used in the future must meet the new NPS standards using the Best Available Technology (BAT).  These oversnow vehicles will be less intrusive on the environment and will also provide greater visitor comfort and safety.

For example, See Yellowstone Tours Inc. helped design and has contracted with SnoBear USA to build a new snowcoach from the ground up to be environmentally friendly and more economical while providing greater guest comfort.  We unveiled this new concept snowcoach, named the “Yellowstone Grizz”, Dec. 15, 2014 exclusively for use in Yellowstone. The Yellowstone Grizz pictured here has the allure of a unique over snow vehicle that “begs” to be ridden through the beauties of Yellowstone in the winter. It was built with many environmental features not available in the retrofitted snowcoaches that we and other operators currently use.

Whether by snowmobile or snowcoach, you may plan on your Yellowstone vacation with certainty. Some of the operators may change but the public is assured access into Yellowstone Park in the winter for the Next 10 years and probably beyond.  

We will update this page as and when new information is made available.

Spring Road Openings:

(Provisional dates)

The approximate dates that roads will open to motorized, wheeled vehicles are as follows:

Update: March 17th 2014

The North Entrance to Northeast Entrance at Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana is open all year. Please note that this road is closed to east/west travel just east of Cooke City from late fall to early spring.

The approximate dates that roads will open to motorized, wheeled vehicles are as follows:

  • April 18: Mammoth to Old Faithful; Madison to West Entrance; Norris to Canyon.
  • May 2: Canyon to Lake; Lake to East Entrance (Lake is one mile south of Fishing Bridge).
  • May 9: Lake to South Entrance; West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass); Tower to Tower Fall.
  • May 23: Tower Fall to Canyon (Dunraven Pass); Beartooth Highway.

PLEASE NOTE – All these dates are subject to Weather permitting

Travelers in Montana may dial 511; those outside Montana may call 1-800-226-7623, or visit the Montana Department of Transportation website.

Additionally in the spring, before park roads open to motorized vehicles, some roads are open to non-motorized recreational vehicles such as bicycles, roller skis, and roller blades. There will be some administrative vehicles traveling the roads at this time so be careful.

Summer:

The summer season runs from approximately mid-April to the beginning of November.
Park Areas, Entrances and Roads open on different dates and are dependent on weather condition. Once an Entrance/Road opens, it is open 24 hours a day. The only exceptions are caused by road construction and weather-related restrictions.

Fall:

Approximate closing dates

October 9 —Roads close to the public at Tower Fall to Canyon Jct. and Long Lake via Beartooth Pass to the Montana Stateline. (GATES CLOSE AT 8 A.M.).
November 4 —all park roads closed to the public at 8 a.m. except from the North Entrance to Upper Mammoth Terrace, and Mammoth via Tower Junction to Northeast Entrance. Cooke City via Colter Pass to the Long Lake gate is not maintained for wheeled vehicle travel.
Fall weather is unpredictable; roads may be closed temporarily by snow or other weather conditions. Snow tires or chains may be required. Please Note: The section of the Beartooth Highway (Highway 212), between the junction of Highway 296 and Red Lodge, Montana, closes in winter on a schedule determined by amount of snowfall. Travel between Red Lodge and the Northeast Entrance is not possible on Highway 212 until it opens again in the spring.

Winter:

2014-2015 Winter Oversnow Vehicle PROVISIONAL Road Opening and Closing Schedule
Winter Opening Dates are Snow Permitting and all dates are subject to change

December 15, 2014—Most roads open to oversnow travel (weather and snow conditions permitting).
December 22, 2014 – East Entrance Road (between East Entrance and Fishing Bridge) opens to oversnow travel.
Only two park roads are plowed in the winter and remain open for wheeled-vehicle use:
The road between the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, to the Northeast Entrance at Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana.
From Mammoth Hot Springs to the parking area at the Upper Terraces (approximately 1/2 mi. of road)
They are maintained only during daylight hours and may close during severe storms. Expect snowpack, ice, frost heaves, drifts. Mud/Snow tires or tire chains may be required and are recommended always. Speed limit for all vehicles is 45 mph (73 kph), or lower where posted—such as from North Entrance to Mammoth. Do not stop on the road or block traffic when viewing wildlife or scenery. Use pullouts. Trails and overlooks may be snow-covered, icy, and dangerous. Obey all trail closures. Walk cautiously at all times and watch your children.
Oversnow travel ends in March. Roads close at 9 PM on the days listed:
March 1, 2015—East Entrance to Lake Butte (Sylvan Pass.)
March 4: Mammoth to Norris
March 6: Madison to Norris to Canyon
March 11: Canyon to Fishing Bridge
March 15, 2015—All other groomed roads in the park are closed.

Closing dates are subject to change

 

We recommend that visitors check the following resources before traveling:

National Weather Service forecast for Yellowstone and Grand Teton
WYDOT Road Information 888-WYO-ROAD
M-DOT Road Information 800-226-7623