December 16 marks opening day for winter season in Yellowstone National Park. Starting this morning, the park opened to guided snowmobiles and snow coaches between the South Entrance and Old Faithful area. Businesses offering commercial tours will be allowed to offer services from the North Entrance through Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful with additional rubber-tracked snow coaches heading through to Norris and Canyon.
All other roads will remain closed under the park’s discretion through the winter season due to heavy snow and ice pack making roads uneasy to navigate.
As more winter storms roll through the area, park staff will watch and monitor weather conditions. The park will progressively open more roads to winter travel by snow coach and snowmobile as more snow falls and can be packed and groomed. The East Entrance along Sylvan Pass is expected to reopen Dec. 22. Other roads expected to open include the North Entrance through Gardiner, MT and Mammoth Hot Spring connecting to Cooke City, MT just out of Northeast Entrance.
Businesses around Old Faithful including the Geyser Grill, Bear Den Gift Shop and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center as of Dec. 15 and The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Obsidian Dining Room will be open effective Sunday.
In addition the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, dining room, and gift shop open Dec. 20. Other services including the Yellowstone General Store, clinic, campground, post-office, gas pumps as well as the Albright Visitor Center remain open all year.
In addition, the park winter over snow travel rules will remain the same as last year in meeting the requirements of the “One Year Rule”. With that rule, Yellowstone will continue to monitor and restrict the daily visits of snow coaches and snowmobiles.
The Yellowstone winter season runs in accordance with snowfall and lasts from mid-December through the beginning of March when the park will slowly open roads and vehicle travel through the park.