GRANITE PEAK PUBLICATIONS: Accompanying travelers to the national park since 2002

All posts tagged roads

Yellowstone roads close for early spring break

Categories: Flora and Fauna, Trip planning, Winter
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I find it ironic that on the very first day of road closure, the most snow I’ve seen on the Old Faithful Webcam all winter has piled up around the Old Faithful Geyser sign, and it’s still coming down in mid afternoon!

If you use a PC rather than a Mac, you should be able to see the Old Faithful Webcam yourself at:
http://www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/yellowstonelive.htm. For the link I use on my Mac, write me at janet@yellowstonetreasures, and I’ll send it to you.

This has been a spectacular winter for snow cover in the park. I wonder what it will mean when it all melts—lots of flooding? many animal carcasses showing they didn’t make it through the winter? A ranger has reported that there are at least seven bison carcasses in the Old Faithful area right now. Time will tell what spring will be like.

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Snowpack and Bison

Categories: On the Web, Trip planning, Wildlife
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Much has been written in the past few weeks [2011] about Yellowstone’s bison and their brucellosis problem. I will not go into details here, which are much too complicated to be dealt with effectively in a guidebook writer’s post, but I will send along the URL of the best summary of the situation I have come across lately. It’s in today’s East Oregonian and written by Samantha Tipler.

Much of this year’s bison dilemma stems from an excellent snowpack in the park, which is hard on all the animals while being great for human visitors’ enjoyment of this beautiful place. The February snowpack map of the Rocky Mountain states and Alaska shows western Yellowstone with 110% to 129% of “normal”—taken as the average snowpack from 1971 to 2000—and eastern Yellowstone (where most of the mountains are) as 90% to 109% of normal. You can look at a snowpack map from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

How I wish I could go back this winter! But it is not to be. I do have the delightful memories of three winter trips there: in 1988, before that summer’s devastating fires; in 1990, when I first got to see Lower Falls with its fabulous ice-cone; and most recently in 2006.

You have only a couple more weeks before the park closes for its annual early spring road plowing and readying the facilities for the summer season. All roads close to oversnow travel by March 15. Then the various roads and accommodations gradually reopen, beginning April 15. Details about the facilities are at the NPS Opening & Closing Dates for Facilities page. But beware, this year almost all accommodations are already booked through most of the summer.

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Road construction for 2010 summer travelers

Categories: Trip planning
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Knowing about the current construction projects might help in planning your Yellowstone visit. There are four of them currently listed for the park. Be aware that the first one I will name includes totally closing the road between 10 pm and 8 am, so you will have to find an alternate route—but night driving defeats most people’s purpose of seeing the sights, anyway.
1. Madison to Norris junctions: The new bridge is open to traffic as of July 12th, but there will still be construction and delays on the road along the Gibbon River.
2. The South Entrance to Lewis Falls is being resurfaced. This project will probably be completed by August.
3. Sylvan Pass has a one-mile stretch which will see construction work. No dates announced for this one.
4. The Canyon to Fishing Bridge junctions segment through Hayden Valley, where so many bison usually congregate in the summer, will have construction delays (in addition to the bison jams) starting on July 26th.

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A quick reminder

Categories: Trip planning
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Tomorrow, April 16 [2010], the park opens to wheeled vehicles now that the roads have been (at least mostly) plowed. Better yet, if you go this weekend the $25 entrance fee is waived. Wish I could be there!

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Time to get back to Yellowstone

Categories: Trip planning
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Just as the park is about to open for what is optimistically called the summer season, nature has dumped what looks like about a foot of snow on the Old Faithful area. Winter was relatively dry this year [2009-2010]. Snow plows have been busy for several weeks clearing the roads of what little snow they had. Nevertheless, I’m sure many of the roads and some facilities will open on April 16th as planned (after re-plowing).

For people lucky enough to be visiting a national park this month, note that all 392 national parks will waive their entrance fees from April 17 to 25, 2010. In Yellowstone, though, you’ll need to be aware that the Gibbon Canyon road (between Madison and Norris Junctions) will be under construction—all summer—and will cause 30-minute delays during the days and be closed totally from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m,, except during the Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends. See further details about the roads on the
National Park Service road closures page, or call 307-344-2117.

I’ve been unable to blog for a month due to the stresses of moving to a new address, but now that the park is about to open, I expect to have plenty to say about my favorite place.

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Yellowstone driving: stuck behind the old guy

Categories: On the Web, Transportation
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I read this recently on an anonymous blog and was reminded of the only time in over fifty years of driving that I’ve ever been stopped for speeding. It was where park employees have a cross-walk from Old Faithful Village to their dorms. I was going 25 or 30 and it is marked down well below that. I was really embarrassed to be stopped, since I should certainly know better, but the law enforcement ranger let me go without a ticket. Here’s the full story from the blog.

As we were making our way out of the park, I ended up getting stuck behind an elderly gentlemen driving an old Land Rover. I’m not sure if was the man’s age or limitations of his vehicle but he was averaging 30-35 mph the whole way. The roads in parts of Yellowstone are narrow, curving passes (read: no passing lanes or clear views to pass for long stretches). I wanted to get back to the cabin in time for sunset so I was getting really frustrated that this guy was impeding my progress.
I finally had the opportunity to pass him and wanted to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, a park ranger passed me and clocked me going a wee bit over the speed limit. I saw him flip around and knew I’d been caught. I’ve never been pulled over for speeding before. I wondered if tickets cost more in national parks. The cop approached my car and I started apologizing profusely. Apparently, I’d been doing 58 in a 45. Doh!
I told him that I knew that I was speeding and explained that I’d been stuck behind the old guy for miles. He laughed and thanked me for my honesty. He took my license, registration, and proof of insurance back to his vehicle.
I don’t know if he can tell that I’ve never had a speeding ticket or been pulled over before. Or maybe he’d been stuck behind the old guy earlier in the day. But, either way, he came back to my car, handed me my stuff and told me to slow down. Pretty lucky, don’t you think?

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Road construction may affect your autumn trip

Categories: Trip planning
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Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Yellowstone, but you need to plan your route especially carefully this year [2009]. You’ll find construction and even closed roads in a number of areas both in and approaching the park.

Here are some places to avoid or plan around:
1. Dubois, WY through Togwotee Pass on U.S. Highways 26 and 287 has two areas being worked on, creating traffic delays (as much as three hours during late night and early morning hours), vehicle width restrictions, and special cautions to motorcyclists. Details are at The Togwotee Trail to Yellowstone.
2. Lizard Creek Campground to Flagg Ranch, the stretch of road called the Rockefeller Memorial Parkway between Grand Teton and Yellowstone parks, will experience road construction with 30 minute delays day and night through November 2009.
3. The Beartooth Highway (US 212 east from Yellowstone’s Northeast Entrance) has two construction projects causing 30-minute delays and some night closures.
4. In the park itself, the road between Artists’ Paintpots through Gibbon Canyon to the Tuff Cliff Picnic Area near Madison Junction is completely closed from now through the November 2 fall closing date of most park interior roads. This project involves removing an existing bridge over the Gibbon River and building a new one; the construction will also affect traffic in the summer season of 2010.

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