Proposal: Expanded Yellowstone Access From The East

A couple of decade after is seemed snowmobiles were likely to be completely banned from Yellowstone National Park, the Park Service is proposing another ever-so-slight loosening of the rules – though the park is still rather restricted.

The Independent Record from Helena is reporting that Yellowstone National Park officials are proposing an extended season for snowmobile or snow coach park entries through the East Entrance — which is located west of Cody, Wyoming. According to the proposal, the park would open no earlier than December 15 to and close no later than March 15, weather permitting.

According to the National Park Service (NPS) website seeking public comment, the existing closures of Dec. 15-21 and March 2-15 through the East Gate were originally implement due to avalanche safety concerns at Sylvan Pass, but the NPS officials says it now has the personnel and expertise to safely open the pass earlier and keep it open later.

If approved, the change would match the East Entrance dates to those at West Yellowstone, Montana (the West Entrance) and Jackson, Wyoming (the South Entrance).

The East Entrance has very low snowmobile traffic — allowing in just two commercially guided trip and one non-commercially guided trip per day — so we’re not talking about a lot of sleds here. The Independent-Record story says it could add on average 19-25 additional sleds into the park each day during the winter season, though the total park is capped at 640 sleds per day.

The other change proposed by the NPS is delaying the daily opening of the South Entrance at Jackson by an hour, backing it up from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., to allow NPS staff a chance to review and deal with hazards and changing conditions.

Comments on the changes are being accepted through October 29, 2020.

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