Yellowstone National Park is open after a brief closure due to COVID-19 this past spring. But before you head to the park, know that things may feel a bit different. The park is putting the necessary precautions in place to ensure visitors and staff stay safe, healthy and distanced!
Below are the latest updates about what to expect when visiting Yellowstone this winter, and how you can do your part to keep the park safe for all.
The National Park Service is strongly encouraging visitors to purchase their entrance pass ahead of time to limit contact at the entrance gates. It also saves you time!
You can purchase your pass online, and either have it ready on your digital device when you arrive or print it out!
You have a few options for passes:
- A Yellowstone Annual Pass at $70 is good for 12 months.
- A Private Vehicle Pass at $35 covers everyone in a single vehicle for 7 days.
- A Motorcycle Pass at $30 covers all riders of a single motorcycle for 7 days.
- The Individual Pass at $20 covers one individual on foot or bike for 7 days.
There are also National Park Service system-wide passes available for purchase that cover more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. These passes cover entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a vehicle’s driver and all passengers in that personal vehicle. These system-wide passes are perfect for families visiting multiple parks in a single year (like Yellowstone AND Grand Teton!)
Your annual options include:
- The Interagency Annual Pass at $80. This pass is for anyone hat doesn’t qualify for one of the discounted or free passes below.
- The U.S. Military Pass for current military members and families. This pass is free and is available at federal recreation sites by showing a Common Access Card or Military ID. Call in advance to ensure the site is issuing these!
- The Annual 4th Grade Pass is free for current fourth graders! Learn more and print out a pass at the Every Kid Outdoors website.
- The Senior Pass at $20 per year or $80 for a lifetime. These passes are for any senior over the age of 62. Proof of age is required.
Winter Road Closing/Opening Dates
Every winter Yellowstone gets an average of 150 inches of snow! In preparation for that, the National Park Service closes some roads in the park and maintains some for oversnow travel only. This means you need to plan ahead!
The current road closure/opening dates are listed below. However, all opening and closing dates are subject to change based on future conditions and public health guidance.
Fall closure dates
Already closed: Beartooth Highway (US 212 to Red Lodge, Montana).
Already closed: All roads close at 8 am except the road between the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance.
2020 winter opening dates for oversnow travel by snowmobile or snowcoach:
December 15: West Entrance to Old Faithful, Mammoth to Old Faithful, Canyon to Norris, Canyon to Lake, Old Faithful to West Thumb, South Entrance to Lake, Lake to Lake Butte Overlook, East Entrance to Lake Butte Overlook (Sylvan Pass).
2021 winter closing dates:
March 1: East Entrance to Lake Butte Overlook (Sylvan Pass)
March 7: Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris.
March 9: Norris to Madison and Norris to Canyon Village.
March 14: Canyon Village to Fishing Bridge.
March 15: All remaining groomed roads close.
2021 spring opening dates:
April 16: West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village.
May 7: East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass), Canyon Village to Lake Village.
May 7: Tower Junction to Calcite Springs.
May 14: South Entrance to West Thumb, Lake Village to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), Tower Junction to Tower Fall.
May 28: Beartooth Highway
2021 fall closing dates:
October 11: Beartooth Highway (US 212 to Red Lodge, Montana).
November 8: All roads close at 8 am except the road between the North Entrance and the Northeast Entrance.
At this time lodging options in the park are limited. Call in advance to confirm that the lodging option you are looking for is available. Lodging is also available outside the park in the gateway communities.
The park and Yellowstone National Park Lodges requires visitors to wear face coverings while in the indoor public areas of their facilities and in outdoor areas where proper distancing is not possible.
Limited lodging it available inside the park due to COVID-19 safety regulations. NOTE: There is no lodging available in the Old Faithful area this winter.
- Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel (Closes Nov. 1, reopens for the winter season on Dec. 15, 2020. Closes in advance of the summer season on March 1, 2021.)
Currently only one campgrounds is open in Yellowstone National Park. Lewis Lake Campground. Mammoth Campground is the only campground open year-round in the park. For the latest information view the National Park Service’s camping page.
This will be updated with Spring 2021 opening dates when those are available.
Backcountry Permits are still required for all overnight stays and are currently being issued by phone or email only through the Central Backcountry Office.
Permits are available no earlier than 2-days prior to the start of your trip. Here’s how to obtain a backcountry permit:
- E-mail a copy of your completed Backcountry Permit Application to the Central Backcountry Office, or
- Call the Central Backcountry Office at 307-344-2160 and provide your application information over the phone.
There are a few additional restrictions when it comes to heading into the backcountry in winter. All stays are limited to three continuous nights at any location (winter backcountry travelers do not have to stay in designated sites). You’ll need to provide approximate locations when you pick up your permit. If you are planning a ski trip using park roads, a number of designated locations have a one night limit. Contact the Central Backcountry for a list of locations along the road where camping is permitted.
Any food available for purchase in the park this winter is take-out only*. While there is no lodging available this winter in the Old Faithful area, there will be food available to purchase.
*A reminder to visitors to dispose of their trash appropriately! Place in authorized trash receptacles or pack it out. Trash is an easy attractant for wildlife.
There are simultaneously fewer activities in the park this year, and endless activities! Many of the prescheduled and group activities have been cancelled due to COVID-19. This includes all scheduled 2020 Ranger Programs and many programs with the Yellowstone Forever Institute. Yellowstone Forever is offering limited Winter Wolf Discovery programs in partnership with Yellowstone National Park Lodges. These multi-day educational programs are based at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and will sell out quickly! Book your package here.