Extremely rare

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Yellowstone Up Close and Personal Chat Page Version 1.60 ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 09:45:03 04/12/16

In Reply to: road closures posted by hikerjim


I can't say it never happens, but I am hard pressed to recall a year when Craig Pass opened early. That doesn't mean it would never happen.

There are two specific roads that I have seen open ahead of schedule, but not very often, and that is the East Entrance Road to Fishing Bridge and Dunraven Pass.

It is not unusual for many of the interior roads to actually be plowed out and be open for administrative traffic ahead of the scheduled opening date, but the roads will still be closed to the public for a variety of reasons. The seasonality of Yellowstone's interior compels a number of management strategies. It's not unusual for the road maintenance crews to be doing certain activities in advance of the public opening that they would have trouble doing once the road is opened. Then there is the staged nature of the series of openings around the park. The roads parallel activities in the developed areas, like plowing, re-opening buildings that have been shuttered since October or November, seasonal staff moving in, etc. The opening dates for various facilities, like gas stations and ranger stations, are part of the overall plan. You need the support structure in place to deal with any of the myriad unplanned events that typically occur once a road is open to the public, like mechanical breakdowns or automobile accidents.

I have my own theories as to why the East Entrance Road and Dunraven Pass occasionally open a week or two early in a low snow/warm spring scenario. The Wyoming congressional delegation and Cody Chamber of Commerce exert a lot of pressure to get that East Entrance Road open. There might even be a few selfish benefits to the NPS getting that road open ahead of schedule. Dunraven Pass is less of a logistical problem, if the weather has been gracious, because all the other roads and developed areas are already open. That said, I do have to mention that there is a risk in opening that road too early. If you get a burst of cold weather, all the water running across the road, just north of the summit, can turn into ice, particularly in the areas in near-perpetual shade.

Having said all of the above, I do seem to recall Craig Pass opening early once or twice over the past 30 or so years. In those instances, it dovetailed with an early opening of the South Entrance Road. If you have ever seen how much snow typically accumulates along that road above the Lewis River Canyon, you can understand how a light winter and warm spring could conceivably result in an early opening.


Follow Ups:

Post a Followup

Optional Link URL:
Link Title:
Optional Image URL:
Please enter the following value as your Submit Key:     
Submit Key:
Note: The Submit Key is Case Sensitive. Do not Copy and Paste!

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Yellowstone Up Close and Personal Chat Page Version 1.60 ] [ FAQ ]