Google Mapping Errors for Yellowstone During Winter and Spring

In winter or spring when many Yellowstone roads are closed, Google maps show alternate roads outside the park, even if you are planning a summer trip.
Author:
Publish date:

Planning a trip to drive through Yellowstone National Park? It’s possible you may run into a few hiccups in your decision-making, especially if you’re trying to map your route in the winter or spring when seasonal road closures will affect your route.

Here are a few helpful hints when mapping out your trip through the park.

Keep in mind that most of Yellowstone’s roads are closed for much of the winter. This is likely to throw a wrench into your ability to map out your trip on the internet if you’re doing so between October and early June, since Google Maps will reroute you around the outside of the park to avoid the road closures. Don’t worry, though. All of the park roads are open by end of May allowing for easy driving through the park.

Google Map Error during winter and spring for Yellowstone Trip Planning

During winter and spring, Google will route you outside the park, resulting in longer trips. This example from West Yellowstone to Cody routing north around the park is 293 miles (5 hours).

During winter and spring, Google will route you outside the park, resulting in longer trips.

Going south around the park shows 428 miles (7 hours and 45 minutes). But, going THROUGH the park during tourist season would only be 136 miles.

Download a Park Map with Mileage

Want to estimate your drive time through the park? Yellowstone’s speed limit is 45 mph on the main roads, but slows down to 25-35 mph by the road junctions, in the village area and in a few other dangerous spots. For a rough estimate, double the number of miles on that segment of the road to get the number of minutes the trip will likely take, assuming you don’t make any stops. Example: 136 miles x 2 = 272 minutes or 4.5 hours.

Another thing to keep in mind when estimating travel time is “bison and bear jams,” back-ups in traffic due to animals in the road or next to it. These wildlife-viewing hold-ups are likely to add another 15-45 minutes to the trip.

Keep tabs on Yellowstone news, which may affect traffic on www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm.

And if all else fails? Remember those old-fashioned books of maps—atlases as they were known? Well, those are pretty effective at planning routes, too. REI sells a great Trails Illustrated map of Yellowstone, which is super helpful. 

Related

Yellowstone bison taking a steam bath beside a geyser in winter.

Winter in Yellowstone National Park

Vacation in a winter wonderland with snowy views of steaming geysers. Tips on what to wear, what to do, wildlife to watch, and where to stay or camp in Yellowstone.

Yellowstone's Hayden Valley in Autumn

Autumn in Yellowstone - Everything You Need to Know

Everything you need to know about autumn weather, elk, bear, and bison activity in fall, plus seasonal closings of road and park facilities.

Overview Map Featured Image

A Quick Overview Map of Yellowstone

Start here with a map showing the locations of 25 areas of Yellowstone including visitor information centers, camping, lodging, dining, and geysers.

Yellowstone map

Official Yellowstone National Park Map PDF

This map is an essential tool to planning a vacation. Note the route of the Grand Loop Road and the attractions of the park before you decide where to stay.

A snowy spring day at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone

Springtime in Yellowstone

Visit Yellowstone during its warming-up season—spring. Here are the road, camping and facilities opening dates.

Spring Wildflowers in Yellowstone

5 Ways to Celebrate Summer’s Arrival in Yellowstone

With the summer solstice ushering summer the evening of June 20, celebrate summer’s officials arrival by seeing the best of Yellowstone.

Stormy night skies at sunset over Spasm Geyser in Yellowstone. Photo by Rob Wood Photography

Average Yellowstone Weather by Season

Dynamic weather adds intrigue to your vacation. Visit Yellowstone in spring, summer, fall or winter for an adventure that changes in each season.

Grand Teton National Park in Winter

Winter in Grand Teton National Park

Here are Grand Teton National Park's entrances that are open in winter to how to get there.

Map of road construction in Yellowstone in 2020

2020-2022 Yellowstone Road Construction

Three major road projects in 2020-2022. A complete closure between Tower Fall and Chittenden Rd, plus delays at the North Entrance and Fishing Bridge to Indian Pond.