Snowfall Hampers Yellowstone Access

May 25, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Wild spring weather has slowed plowing efforts on Beartooth Highway, prompting Yellowstone National Park to delay the road’s opening beyond the Memorial Day weekend for the first time in six years, the Billings (Mont.) Gazette reported.

Inside the park, the opening of Dunraven Pass has also been delayed, along with the opening of several campgrounds, including Slough Creek.

Sylvan Pass and the park’s east entrance remain open with limited hours, while Craig Pass between West Thumb and Old Faithful is subject to temporary closures because of snow, park officials said.

“We struggled to get a lot of our entrances and internal roads open this year,” said Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash. “It truly has been a struggle, and we continue to look at challenges opening the park up for summer visitors.”

Nash said park crews plow the Bearthooth Highway each spring from Cooke City to the Wyoming state line, while the Montana Department of Transportation takes it from the state line to Red Lodge.

But this year, he said, snow depths up to 25 feet have slowed plowing efforts. Crews hope to have the road open on June 3, while the opening of Dunraven Pass inside Yellowstone has been postponed until June 10.

Heavy snowfall and wet spring weather have caused problems in portions of Yellowstone in recent days, from road closures to washouts. Streams are running full and park officials have cautioned hikers to be wary of rising water.

“Certainly this year, we’re not alone in the challenges,” Nash said. “You look all around the region and each area seems to have its own spring challenge, whether it’s too much rain or too much snow for this time of year.”

The threat of avalanches have also limited travel over Sylvan Pass on East Entrance road. Washouts near Sedge Bay — located east of the Fishing Bridge — and areas south of Canyon Village are expected to cause short travel delays.

Nash said Yellowstone’s other gates and interior roads remain open, though weather conditions will delay the opening of several campgrounds, including Slough Creek.

Bridge Bay and Norris campgrounds are expected to open this Friday, Nash said.

The weekend forecast calls for cloudy skies and a chance of rain or snow. While highs will range in the mid-50s, overnight lows could dip into the 20s.


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