Yellowstone open for hardy spring bicyclists
Opportunity to bike the park before cars allowed in
by Yellowstone National Park
March 30, 2011
Crews in Yellowstone National Park are making steady progress clearing several feet of snow and ice off park roads which are scheduled to begin opening on April 15 to motorized, wheeled vehicle traffic. But before visitors arrive by car, trailer, RV and bus, a unique opportunity to view the park in its early spring splendor begins today for those willing and capable to brave the elements Ė under their own power on two wheels.
For the next three weeks the road between West Yellowstone, Madison, Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs will be open to travel by adventurous bicyclists. The brief bicycle-only season on this section of road is possible because the northwest section of the park typically receives less snowfall than the rest of Yellowstone. There is no spring season bicycle-only access to Old Faithful or Canyon.
However, cycling in the park during this time of year is not for the faint of heart, and extreme safety precautions should be followed by all riders.
Spring in the park often brings cold temperatures, blustery winds and falling snow. Even cleared sections of roads are narrow and covered with a layer of snow, ice and debris. Pullouts and parking areas remain inaccessible and filled with snow.
Most importantly, no park services will be open in the interior of the park. Riders need to be prepared to be out in the elements for an extended period of time in case they experience a mechanical breakdown, injury or other emergency.
Cyclists should expect to encounter snowplows or other vehicles operated by park employees or construction workers traveling in conjunction with park operations. In addition to road hazards, cyclists are likely to encounter bison, elk, wolves or bears on or along the roads. They are required to ride single file, strongly encouraged to carry bear spray, and should be prepared to turn around and backtrack when encountering wildlife on the road.
Snow removal efforts may also allow for a brief period of bicycle-only access into the park sometime in May from the South Entrance to West Thumb and from the East Entrance toward Sylvan Pass. The road from the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, to Cooke City, Montana, at the park's Northeast Entrance is open all year to cyclists and automobiles, weather permitting. Some interior park roads donít open to automobile travel until Memorial Day weekend.
Cyclists are urged to call 307-344-2107 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays for updated road access information, or call 307-344-2113 for 24-hour weather information before traveling to the area. Additional planning information is also available online at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/springbike.htm.
Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.