Yellowstone is Open! What You Need to Know
Yellowstone National Park opens many of their roads for the summer season April 21, and Saturday, April 22, there is no entrance fee in celebration of National Park Week. The North and Northeast Entrances have been open to vehicle traffic all winter, and both road corridors have been repaired from last year’s flooding. As you plan your trip, here are a few updates to keep in mind for the summer season.
It’s been a banner snow year in Montana’s Yellowstone Country, and there is still quite a bit at the higher elevations. Animals like bison and elk use the road as travel corridors, so please travel through the park with care and give them space if you encounter them! It’s been a long winter, and the animals don’t need additional stress.
We can’t emphasize caution enough. Though the animals in and around YNP may seem docile, they are wild animals and can be easily agitated and become aggressive.
Due to the brutal winter, there are also a lot of deer and elk carcasses, which bears may be feeding on. So keep your distance (25 yards for most animals and 100 yards for bears and wolves), carry bear spray and utilize a zoom lens for wildlife photography.
There are still camping and RV spots available in the Park. In addition, there is some availability at hotels within Yellowstone and the surrounding towns of Gardiner, Silver Gate, Cooke City and West Yellowstone. There is a delay in the opening of Mammoth Hotel, but Yellowstone National Park Lodges are re-booking those who have reservations into other lodging accommodations. Other services in Mammoth are available, including the Albright Visitor Center, the General Store, Post Office, medical clinic, and gas station.
There will be ongoing road improvements this summer as the Park Service works to maintain the infrastructure of our treasured Yellowstone National Park. Expect delays at the Lewis River Bridge, Old Faithful to West Thumb, Yellowstone River Bridge, and the Northeast Entrance Road.
Eating in Yellowstone
One lesser-known fact about traveling in YNP is that the food is fantastic. Yellowstone National Park Lodges, operated by Xanterra Travel Collection, is committed to local and sustainably produced food. During the peak months, the Park serves 17,000 meals daily, with over 50% of their ingredients sustainably grown. Those are some impressive numbers. Recently, they joined forces with the Western Sustainability Exchange to source most of their cuisine from local and sustainable producers. This includes the Northern Great Plains Regenerative Grazing Program, which assists ranchers who make multi-year commitments to implement regenerative ranching practices. You can read more about the program here.
Ranger-led programs such as the Junior Ranger Program, and the Young Scientist are back! Watch the Park's website for schedules to be posted soon!
Don’t forget we’re amid the thaw, and spring conditions are unpredictable. One day it might be sunny and warm, and the next day could bring a snowstorm — sometimes both in the gamut of a single day! So bring layers, including a waterproof outer layer, sun protection and sturdy shoes that you won’t mind getting dirty. Snowpack in Yellowstone this year was 120%, so it might be a while before the snow melts.
Spring storms can also temporarily close roads in or around Yellowstone National Park without much notice, so check the YNP website, or a local Chamber of Commerce before heading out.