Yellowstone: East, South, and West Entrances Close on Nov. 8

Yellowstone: East, South, and West Entrances Close on Nov. 8

Written by on November 3, 2021

The “summer season” for Yellowstone National Park officially ends on Monday, Nov. 8, as most park entrances will close after the first weekend of November.

After months of record-breaking attendance, winter has come to Yellowstone National Park. As more snow falls, it becomes increasingly difficult for tourists to traverse the park in their cars, trucks, and R.V.s.

Park officials have decided the first weekend in November will be the last of Yellowstone’s “summer season.” So, after six months, Wyoming’s access to its most famous national park will be cut off – temporarily.

At 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 8, the West, South, and East entrances and all roads – with one exception – will close to all vehicle travel.

Every year, usually early November, Yellowstone’s roads close for preparation for the winter season and snowmobile and snow coach travel. The winter season for all entrances begins on Wednesday, Dec. 15.

The one exception to next week’s road closures is the road from the park’s North Entrance. The road from Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs to the Northeast Entrance and Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, is open all year, weather permitting.

Winter at 9,000 feet is already making travel thru Yellowstone difficult. Entrances and major segments of the Grand Loop Road have already closed for several hours – sometimes overnight – due to snow, sleet, and poor driving conditions.

Yellowstone Pelican Creek

Courtesy Yellowstone National Park & Jacob Frank

No entrance is more prone to sudden close than the East Entrance outside Cody.

Sylvan Pass lies between the East Entrance and the Fishing Bridge Junction. It is often the first road in the park to suddenly close when winter weather moves in.

During mid-October’s massive snowstorm, Sylvan Pass was closed and reopened several times between Sunday, Oct. 10, and Wednesday, Oct. 13. These closures trapped tourists in some Yellowstone regions and stopped them from reaching Cody and the rest of Wyoming.

Thankfully, the East Entrance will now open and close at the same time as the other Yellowstone entrances. After years of work, increased capacity, and expertise in the area, park officials are confident they can safely open the pass on Dec. 15 and keep it open until Mar. 15.

However, while most entrances will close for a time, the record-breaking year won’t end just yet.

Year-to-date visitation to Yellowstone National Park is already higher than any previous year. By the end of September, there were 4,463,599 recreation visits to the park, up 17% from 2019.

July 2021 was the busiest month in the park’s history. Yellowstone National Park hosted 1,080,767 recreation visits that month alone.

Tourists will still be able to contribute to the year-to-date visitation by entering thru Gardiner or Cooke City for the next month. By then, winter tourists and vehicles will enter the park and begin the 2021-2022 winter season in Yellowstone.

If you intend to visit Yellowstone during the final weekend of summer, it’s essential to come prepared and stay aware.

If you plan to drive in the park during the fall and winter:

  • Prepare for changing weather conditions.
  • Have flexible travel plans.
  • Expect limited services.
    • This time of year, most services are open in Mammoth Hot Springs and closed elsewhere in the park.
    • Check Operating Hours and Seasons for details.
  • Anticipate possible road closures due to inclement weather and dangerous driving conditions.
  • Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time without notice.

For road condition updates:

  • Visit Park Roads.
  • Call (307) 344-2117 for recorded information.
  • Receive Yellowstone Road alerts on your mobile phone by texting “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).

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