W.Y.D.O.T. and Yellowstone National Park confirm the Beartooth Highway is entirely open for the first time since its “opening day” in late May, but there are still full nighttime closures all summer.
U.S. Highway 212 – the Beartooth Highway – is again open to tourist traffic. But getting to this opening was no small task.
All three agencies responsible for clearing and maintaining the highway – W.Y.D.O.T., Montana D.O.T., and the National Park Service – were determined to meet the scheduled opening at noon on May 27. And the agencies were able to achieve this goal – for five hours.
The intensity of the late-season winter weather made it untenable to keep the highway open. As a result, by 5 p.m. on May 27, the Beartooth Highway temporarily closed due to winter weather conditions.
Since then, W.Y.D.O.T. and Montana D.O.T. worked to clear their sides of the highway. Multiple winter storms dumped several more feet of snow on the pass – some drifts encountered by plow trucks were over ten feet tall.
June 9 is the first time the Beartooth Highway has been fully open since May 27.
Courtesy National Park Service
Despite the highway being “open,” drivers must be aware of nighttime construction closures that completely stop traffic for twelve hours four days a week.
While the highway is open, it is not uninhibited. Intense construction projects – including a 420-foot, $27 million bridge – are underway to improve the road’s safety and traffic flow. The construction will also improve the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by allowing the region’s wildlife to move more easily.
Beartooth Highway: Construction Continues on 420-Foot Bridge
Closures will be in effect from 7 .p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Thursday, until mid-October.
Yellowstone officials confirm that nighttime construction closures began the same day the highway opened. These are “hard closures,” meaning there will be no traffic for the entire 12-hour period.
There will be no nighttime closures Friday through Sunday.
Check the Montana and Wyoming departments of transportation websites for road updates and status throughout the summer.