Yellowstone, Grand Teton open for winter use
Published: December 22, 2011 10:07AM
Updated: December 14, 2011 12:23PM
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Tribune file photo The National Park Service on Friday released a winter use plan for Yellowstone National Park.

Plan to head north for some winter adventures? Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks open Thursday to winter use, albeit somewhat limited.

Visitors to Yellowstone will be able to enter the park on commercially guided snowmobiles or rubber-tracked snowcoaches between the park’s South

Entrance and Old Faithful. Businesses which normally offer commercially guided snowmobile and snowcoach tours will be temporarily allowed to use either rubber -tracked snowcoaches or wheeled vehicles to transport visitors from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful. Rubber-tracked snowcoaches will be permitted to travel between Norris and Canyon.

The rest of the interior park roads have too much ice and snow to allow visitor travel by commercial wheeled vehicles, but not enough snow yet to permit commercially guided snowmobile or snowcoach travel.

Park staff members will continue to closely monitor conditions and weather forecasts. Additional sections of the park will be opened to commercially guided snowmobile and snowcoach travel as soon enough new snow falls to permit the roads to be packed and groomed for safe oversnow travel.

Travel through the park’s East Entrance over Sylvan Pass is scheduled to begin December 22.

The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana through Mammoth Hot Springs and on to Cooke City, Montana outside the park’s Northeast Entrance is open to automobile travel all year.

At Old Faithful, the Geyser Grill, the Bear Den Gift Shop, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center open for the season on Dec. 15. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins and the Obsidian Dining Room open on December 18.

The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, dining room, and gift shop will open for the season on Tuesday, December 20. The Yellowstone General Store, the medical clinic, campground, post office, 24-hour gasoline pumps, and the Albright Visitor Center at Mammoth Hot Springs are open all year.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular winter activities in Grand Teton National Park. Most trails are skier tracked, but not groomed. The Teton Park Road

(TPR) is a designated winter trail, open to non-motorized use in winter.

The TPR gets intermittently groomed for cross-country touring and skate skiing from the Taggart Lake parking area to Signal Mountain. Grooming operations may begin in late December after sufficient snow (at least 2 feet) has accumulated on the TPR. Severe winter storms or park emergencies may preempt the trail grooming schedule on occasion. Important reminder: Snowshoers should walk adjacent to the groomed ski trail, as snowshoes ruin the grooved track set for skiers’ use.

The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center (12 miles north of Jackson, Wyoming) is open year-round and winter hours run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The Discovery Center will be closed on December 25.

Ranger-led snowshoe hikes start December 26 at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. This 2-hour activity is offered every day at 1:30 p.m., and previous experience is not necessary. Snowshoes are provided for a requested donation of $5 for adults and $2 for children, 8 years or older. Reservations are required and can be made at 307-739-3399.

Snowmobilers may use the frozen surface of Jackson Lake for the purposes of ice fishing only. A Wyoming State fishing license and appropriate fishing gear must be in possession.

On Jackson Lake, snowmobiles must meet National Park Service air and sound emissions requirements for Best Available Technology (BAT). Snowmobiles may also use the Grassy Lake Road in the JDR Parkway for recreation. The BAT machine requirement does not apply to snowmobile use on