Cody – Yellowstone’s East Entrance opened for the summer season Friday morning. But people who go through that Wyoming entrance will have to watch out for more than just bears and bison. They have to keep their eyes open for a possible avalanche on Sylvan Pass.
The snow is melting in Yellowstone’s high country. But, it’s still deep on Sylvan Pass. So deep, drivers are advised not to stop or park at the top of the pass, and keep 100 yards distance from other cars. The warm weather that encourages people to take a drive in the park on the first weekend of the summer season, could melt enough snow on Sylvan Pass, to release the heavy load there, and cause an avalanche.
East Entrance Supervisor Brian Perry said he tells visitors, “It is possible.”
Perry said if there is an avalanche, the East Entrance will be closed.
He explained, “They will have to make other accommodations, or exit through the north entrance and drive all the way around, and as you know that’s a good five hour trip.”
Why can’t Cody bound visitors just drive out the Park’s Northeast Entrance through Cooke City?
The road east of Cooke City hasn’t been plowed yet. In fact, Park County Search and Rescue responded to a call from a couple of tourists who got stuck in the deep snow Tuesday. The men told authorities they ignored the “road closed” signs because their GPS unit told them the road was open. Sheriff Steward says, “Those signs are there for a reason, and shouldn’t be ignored.”
But there were plenty of visitors who ready to go in the East Entrance early in the morning. Some had waited more than an hour to be first to go in.
A Park Visitor from Powell, Nancy Gilmore was the first. She had never been first in line, on the first day before.
She said, “This is the first time. This is exciting. Very exciting.”
The first visitors got a reward for coming early in the season. They didn’t have to pay the new higher fee, which goes into effect June 1st.
The fee was raised from $30 to $35 per vehicle. At one point the National Park Service proposed raising the fee to $70 per vehicle. That proposal was turned down.
Gilmore said, “I’m good with $35 and I’d have paid $70. I feel that the infrastructure is failing somewhat and I think any additional funds would help support that…”
East Entrance visitors were also told to watch for grizzlies. Several have been spotted recently in the Shoshone National Forest just outside the park, and Hayden Valley inside.