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All posts tagged snowmobiles

Winter season opens in Yellowstone

Categories: News, Trip planning, Winter
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[December 16: The snow cover at Old Faithful looks even better on the webcam than it did yesterday, as you can see in this late afternoon screen shot. I need to make a slight correction to yesterday’s post—]

OFG_Webcam_12_16_15

Starting today, December 15, 2015, three of Yellowstone’s entrances are open to over-snow vehicles, park officials announced. A fresh snowfall assured that the planned opening day can take effect, and snowcoaches and snowmobiles can enter through the West, South, and North Entrances. However, over-snow vehicles really take over at Mammoth Hot Springs, which is five miles from the North Entrance. Starting next Tuesday, December 22, the East Entrance will be open.

The road from the North Entrance to the Northeast Entrance is open year-round to wheeled vehicles, meaning the roads are plowed. Still, you might be wise to use all-season tires or carry chains.

If you’d like to read about my winter experiences in the park as well as about the wolf-watching trip taken by my friend Rita Reining last year and excerpts from a historical account of skiing through the park long ago, select “Winter” from this website’s “Categories” box.

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Yellowstone Park Opens to Over-snow Vehicles Today—But Wait . . .

Categories: Trip planning, Winter
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Today, December 15, is when the winter season officially begins in Yellowstone. This means you should be able to travel in snowcoaches or with commercially guided snowmobile groups starting now.

But the snow cover is so limited between West Yellowstone and Old Faithful, that the National Park Service is allowing “only commercial snowcoaches with rubber tracks or large oversnow tires” on that stretch of park road, according to today’s Jackson Hole News and Guide.

If I were so lucky as to be going to the park this winter, I would make my plans for mid January through the end of February, when snow conditions are much more likely to be good. Here’s where you can read about my unforgettable January 2012 luxury winter trip.

Of course, you can also make all the arrangements yourself through Xanterra (307-344-7311) or a private concessionaire.

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Updated Yellowstone snowmobile regulations now include a lottery

Categories: Trip planning, Winter
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This winter for the first time snowmobilers can enter a lottery for unguided tours of the park. This is the time to enter the lottery. The National Park Service has announced that the “Non-Commercially Guide Snowmobile Access Program will allow up to four non-commercial ‘transportation events’ of up to five snowmobiles each to enter the park daily—one ‘event’ per day per over-snow entrance into the park.” This quote comes from the Snowgoer website.

If this is something you’ve always wanted to do—and it has not been allowed for the past several years—you’ll find all the details of entering the lottery at the NPS website.

There are other ways to enjoy the beauties of Yellowstone’s winter landscape: in guided snowmobile tours or in heated ten-passenger snow coaches. For my winter adventures in years past, see Winter in Yellowstone.

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Traveling to Yellowstone in the winter

Categories: Trip planning, Winter
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Silex Spring in winter

An island of rime-coated grass in Silex Spring’s runoff


For most of the winter, the West, East and South park entrances are closed to cars and trucks but open to skiers, snowshoers, snowcoaches, and snowmobiles. These winter activities are possible until early to mid March. Then most of the park is closed to everyone until various roads open between April 18 and 23. Call the Yellowstone National Park information office (307-344-2117) for current road information.

The one park road that is kept open all winter takes you from the North Entrance to the Northeast Entrance via Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower-Roosevelt. See the Park Map.

Only two park lodgings are open in winter—the Snow Lodge at Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Go to Xanterra’s Yellowstone site for more information and reservations.

Also, be sure to read Janet’s report about her Tauck tour of the park in 2012. The many photos give you an idea of what it is like this time of year.

Happy New Year!

Have a good journey,
Beth Chapple, Editor

Updated Jan. 2, 2014

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Winter use plan for Yellowstone, 2013

Categories: News, Winter
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If you are thinking of a winter trip to the park, you may be concerned about what the access will be like this winter by snowmobile or snowcoach. Plans that have been tossed about and changed repeatedly in the past decade or more have now been revised once again. The new plan will take effect in the 2014–15 season. During this coming season there will be no change in the daily quotas for the two types of oversnow vehicles.

Having enjoyed four winter trips to the park over the years, I would like to see fewer snowmobiles, but the technology for them has been much improved between my first winter visit in 1988—when West Entrance rangers wore gas masks to protect themselves from the snowmobile exhaust—and my most recent visit in 2012: http://www.yellowstonetreasures.com/nuggets/winter-in-yellowstone-part-1

I disagree with opening the dangerous East Entrance over Sylvan Pass to any access in the winter months, since the expense of keeping it open is unreasonable considering the relatively few people who take advantage of that access.

A complete discussion of the new winter plan can be found at the excellent National Parks Traveler website:
http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2013/08/yellowstone-national-parks-winter-use-plan-gains-approval23795

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Winter plans when it’s still early summer

Categories: News, On the Web, Transportation, Trip planning, Winter
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My deadline with the copyeditor of Yellowstone, Land of Wonders having been met, I am free to catch up on all the current Yellowstone news.

Unlike other western areas this month [June 2012], no fires threaten the park yet, but it is still early, and if drought and heat continue there will certainly be danger.

While we watch the summer scene, some people are thinking about the winter one, and a long and excellent article appeared this week about the still-unsettled plan for snowmobile and snowcoach access next winter. You can find all the details at: http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2012/06/yellowstone-draft-winteruse-plan-allows-110-transportation-events-daily-keeps-sylvan-pass-open.

Scroll down on that site for a list of all the documents on winter use since discussion began in 2000.
In brief: a plan preferred by the park service has been put forth that states that there may be “a maximum of 480 snowmobiles in the park” but “the average maximum use would be 342 snowmobiles per day.” It gets more complicated from there on and now calls what were “sound events,” “transportation events.” An improvement in language?

Some groups of snowmobiles led by unpaid guides would be allowed in each day, in addition to professionally guided tours. The East Entrance over Sylvan Pass (always a controversial subject) would remain open in winter.

Public meetings on the subject will be held in mid July, and comments from the public will be received for 45 days.

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Yellowstone closing for the autumn break, 2011

Categories: Trip planning, Winter
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As Hallowe’en excitement draws to a close, I’ll pass on to any of you thinking of visiting Yellowstone soon that you have only one more week before almost all the roads close for the autumn break. From 8 am Monday, November 7, until December 15, the roads will be closed except for the one across northern Yellowstone from Gardiner to Cooke City, Montana.

The winter season, when the Mammoth Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge reopen and many roads will be prepared for snowcoaches and commercially guided snowmobiles, stretches from December 15 through March 15. This is a good time to make travel and accommodation reservations for the winter experience of a lifetime.

The National Park Service limits allowing 78 snowcoaches and 318 snowmobiles per day to enter the park will continue in effect this season.

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Winter travel in Yellowstone is almost over

Categories: Transportation, Trip planning, Winter
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[March 2011] Wanting to keep my readers informed, I’ll pass on the fact that you have only six more days this season to enjoy going through Yellowstone by snowcoach or snowmobile. All such travel ends at 9 pm next Tuesday, March 15, and plowing the roads will begin when conditions make it feasible, readying the roads for their gradual opening to cars and buses, beginning on April 15.

Hotels and cabins are already closed at Old Faithful and Mammoth; they are the only in-park winter accommodations.

The long-term plan for oversnow travel should be coming out in Draft Environmental Impact Statement form in a few weeks, followed by a sixty-day comment period. The National Park Service intends to finish the plan and issue any new winter use regulations before the start of the 2011-2012 winter season. I’m very interested to see what they decide upon and will keep you informed when decisions are made. 


Plans for my own summer visit have been made for some time already and will include an all-day book-signing in Old Faithful Inn on Sunday, July third.

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Park roads open today

Categories: Geysers, News, Transportation
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Hurray! From today until early March you can travel over Yellowstone’s snowy roads by snowcoach, snowmobile, skis, or snowshoes. Seeing the park in winter is a not-to-be-missed experience.

And those of us not able to visit this winter will be consoled now that facilities at Old Faithful are open again by watching the Old Faithful webcam for OFG eruption times and other happenings in Upper Geyser Basin.

2010

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Park closes for pre-season break

Categories: Transportation, Winter
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As of this morning all interior Yellowstone roads are closed, with the exception of the lowest elevation road—the one between the North and Northeast Entrances, which is kept open all winter for the convenience of residents of Gardiner and Cooke City. Not incidentally, it also gives access to wolf watchers and Mammoth terrace observers. The park is always open to non-motorized travel, but there are no accommodations, stores, or restaurants. Only the Mammoth campground remains available all year.

The park’s outlying communities, especially West Yellowstone, can now get ready for the winter season, which begins on December 15th. The same quota for snowmobiles (318 per day) will be in effect this coming season as last, and 78 snowcoaches may enter daily. For an informative and well-written article about the past, present, and future of winter travel in Yellowstone, see:
http://www.newwest.net/snow_blog/article/snowmobiling_in_yellowstone_past_and_present/C458/L41.

The article has one small error that I can’t resist pointing out. It implies that you could not reach Yellowstone by train until 1908. The writer, who seems to be a resident of West Yellowstone, means that trains did not reach there until then. Actually, the Northern Pacific Railroad reached to within a few miles of the park’s North Entrance in 1883.

How about this for winter fun? Take a train to Gardiner, then a cog railroad to lift you the thousand feet or so to Mammoth Hot Springs, and then see some of the park at your pleasure: choose snowshoes, skis, snowcoach, or snowmobile. I’m a dreamer. Passenger trains quit running, even as close to the North Entrance as Livingston, in the 1970s.

For updated information on road conditions and closures, the park recommends you call (307) 344-2117.

2010

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