Beartooth Highway and U.S. 14A Clear for Thursday Reopening

Beartooth Highway and U.S. 14A Clear for Thursday Reopening

Written by on May 26, 2021

Northwest Wyoming will soon become much more traversable, as two mountain passes open Thursday and should stay open for Memorial Day – weather permitting.

While summer has arrived in many Wyoming tourist communities, winter keeps its grip on the high mountains. After weeks of plowing and preparation, both the Beartooth Pass and U.S. Highway 14A are nearly ready to begin their summer seasons.

There are four mountain passes in Wyoming affected by seasonal winter closures. Northwest Wyoming is home to two of those passes, which restrict travel and tourism for most of the year.

WYDOT announced U.S. 14A would be fully reopened by 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 28.

This 22-mile stretch of scenic mountain road closes in the late fall due to heavy, drifting snow that makes travel nearly impossible Crews from both the Lovell and Burgess Junction sides began snow removal operations at the beginning of May, aiming for a Memorial Day opening.

WYDOT reports that this season’s snowpack was low. That was good news for plowing operations, which ended earlier than usual. This early completion allowed construction contractors to perform crack seal operations on US 14A while the highway was still closed, thus eliminating traffic control costs. These operations were completed this week, just in time for the official opening.

While this pass may be clear, nearby forest service roads are not. Motorists are asked to stay on US 14A and not attempt to access any other roads along the route at this time.

Courtesy Yellowstone National Park

Meantime, plowing operations on the 24 mile Beartooth Pass are also permitting an earlier-than-planned Thursday reopening.

Yellowstone National Park’s Public Affairs Office announced U.S. 212 – the Beartooth Highway – will be fully open and uninhibited from Red Lodge to Cooke City. By 8 a.m. Thursday morning, it will be free and in the clear.

The Beartooth Highway closed at 5 p.m. on Oct. 10, 2020. Plowing operations to reopen the mountain pass began earlier this spring.

But the seasonal closure didn’t stop everybody. In early May, Park County Search and Rescue evacuated a stranded couple who passed the closure signs in their vehicle and got stuck on the high mountain road.

While both Wyoming passes may be open, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay open – or completely safe.

Conditions can change quickly, especially during spring and fall, and roads can temporarily close due to poor driving conditions. All drivers should plan alternate travel routes should weather, or other hazards close either highway.

Check the Montana and Wyoming departments of transportation websites for road updates and status throughout the summer.

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