OOPS, I see your dates in your subject line!

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Posted by Granite Head ( on 10:29:48 03/07/16

In Reply to: What are your dates? posted by Granite Head

All the roads will be open in theory, but the weather is unpredictable (at any time, but especially in seasonal transitions) so bring clothing that can be layered, and be aware that a sudden snow storm could close mountain passes temporarily. I would also recommend gassing up in Gardiner before you head into the park, and bringing your lunch in case you find yourself hungry in an area in which the services haven't opened yet.

In terms of guiding your own activities, in case you haven't noted it among responses below, I suggest getting a copy of Janet Chapple's Yellowstone Treasures, preferably before you go so you can orient yourselves and set your priorities.

The geyser basins are fascinating at all times of the year, but be sure you have good foot gear, when the temperatures drop steam can freeze on the boardwalks making them an icy proposition. They do tend to melt quickly though - after all the ground beneath is warm!

If the snow keeps melting as it has been to date, you'll be able to do some hiking as well. Examples of popular hikes that you probably will be able to do in April (i.e., neither blocked by snow nor so mushy from melt as to be impassible) include Fairy Falls (near Grand Prismatic Spring), Lone Star Geyser (near Old Faithful), and Beaver Ponds (from Mammoth Hot Springs). Ask for maps and more suggestions at the Visitor Centers.

If you do any hiking beyond the geyser boardwalks, it's critically important that you educate yourselves as to bear protection and carry and learn how use bear spray, available at the park stores. Both black and grizzly bears are coming out of hibernation now.

It's likely all wildlife watching will be good in April, and some animals may have their babies already, a black bear mother with a cub were spotted on Friday. As you drive around the park, look for groups of people in pullouts with spotting scopes set up -- don't hesitate to ask them what they're watching - usually it will be wolves or bears. Most will be completely delighted to let you have a look. I also always strongly recommend you take binoculars of your own, not all the wildlife is so cooperatively close to the road :-)

As you noted, most of the tour concessions won't be operating yet, and the ranger talks won't have started but you'll find park staff to be good source of information from behind the Visitor Center desks. But I think you'll enjoy seeing the sights on your own, with mostly locals for company who will be beside themselves with happiness because they can now drive everywhere they want around the park after a long winter of limited access. No crowds in April!

This is the link to the opening days and hours of the in-park services:


Young bighorn ram enjoying warm sunshine last Friday.

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