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

All posts tagged snowcoaches

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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Magic number 318

Categories: Transportation
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In recent Yellowstone news, we find that snowmobile permits to enter the park are now set at 318 per day for the next two winter seasons [2009 and 2010]. I haven’t learned how this number was picked, but it’s a step in the right direction. Since fewer sleds than that have entered on all but a few days in the past few winters, this limit should inconvenience very few people who want to ride them in Yellowstone.

For my money, though, 318 is still too high a number for the good of the park’s animals and to assure a prime experience for those of us who are not interested in riding snowmobiles. Fortunately, at the same time, up to 78 snowcoaches per day may enter the park.

The NPS ruling states: “Rules to implement the decision will be published in the coming weeks in the Federal Register, to allow the parks to open for the winter season as scheduled on December 15, 2009.”

NOW is the time to make your winter reservations!

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