Are you feeling lucky, fellow snowmobiler? Then you may want to enter the lottery – not the one that’ll make you a multi-millionaire, but rather the one that may allow you and up to four friends to be one of the first to ride a snowmobile in Yellowstone National Park without a formal, commercial guide.
Earlier today, the National Park Service announced its process for the allotment of non-commercially-guided groups to enter the amazing Yellowstone Park via snowmobile, as will be allowed by the Park Service’s new Winter Use Rules that were approved last year.
According to the Park Service website, 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. The over-snow entrances are the West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Montana; the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana; the East Entrance 52 miles west of Cody, Wyoming, and the South Entrance 55 miles from Jackson, Wyoming.
The leader of each group – an unofficial/non-commercial guide – must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license and must get a non-commercial snowmobile access permit. To get a permit, he or she must enter the special permit lottery, for which applications are being accepted from September 3 until October 3. To enter the lottery, click here.
Those group leaders/lottery winners who are granted a permit must also complete the online Yellowstone Snowmobile Education Certification course before their visit. The course will be free.
Each member of the non-commercially guide group must be on a “Best Available Technology” snowmobile – which includes most (but not all) modern four-stroke, the list of which can be found here. If your’s is an approved model, you can ride your own snowmobile; otherwise rental sleds are available in most locations.
With only one visit per day, it’s a safe guess that the lottery odds may be steeper at popular entrances like West Yellowstone than at some of the others, but as they say in those multi-million dollar lotteries, you can’t win if you don’t enter!
To see Tom Kaiser’s past story of riding in Yellowstone (with a guide) click here.