While the winter continues here in the Cody/Yellowstone area, we can already feel a shift happening. Vacation season isn’t far away and everyone in town is starting to prepare to welcome the visitors in 2019. At the Cody Country Chamber office, the new vacation guides are already going out in the mail and the phone is starting to ring with inquiries. Store owners are starting preparations for the summer and spiffing up their inventory. Here at Tour Yellowstone, we’re taking tour guide training trips to brush up on our trips offered in the Bighorn Basin (and having fun along the way). In short, we’re getting ready to welcome you!

As you start to plan your vacation to the Yellowstone area, there are some dates to know that will help you make your trip as amazing as it can be. In this post, you’ll find a list of the opening dates for the roads in the park. Yellowstone opens on a staggered basis, so not everything is open until mid-season.

Road map of Yellowstone 2019

Some key dates to know:

March 15, 2019: Yellowstone’s interior roads close for the winter season. You can still access the road from Mammoth out to Cooke City, but you cannot get beyond Cooke City. This closure to the interior of the park allows time to plow the roads for the summer season.

April 19, 2019: Weather permitting, Yellowstone opens for the summer 2019 season, but not all entrances will be open yet. Only the north entrance (Gardiner) and west entrance (West Yellowstone) will open. You’ll be able to get to Old Faithful and Canyon, but the other roads will still be closed. It’s still not feasible for us to offer tours yet in the park from Cody. That said, the wildlife tours from Cody are amazingly full of wildlife sightings. A popular one is the North Fork tour along the road to Yellowstone. All the wildlife that winters here are waiting for the snow to melt so they can start moving back into the park for the summer.

May 3, 2019: Weather permitting, the east entrance (CODY!) will open. While you still won’t be able to head to Jackson Hole through the park, we can offer you tours to Canyon and around to Old Faithful and then back the same way. We expect to see Sandhill Cranes, Trumpeter Swans, bison, coyotes and likely a few bears and perhaps wolves. Steamboat Geyser is still active (erupting about every 7-10 days right now), and if luck is with us (and the boardwalks are clear of snow), we might catch the tallest geyser in the world during this rare period of activity.

May 10, 2019: Weather permitting (yes, significant snowfall is still possible in Yellowstone at this date), the south entrance (Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole) opens. At this point, the lower loop in Yellowstone should be fully open, allowing access to West Thumb and Old Faithful via Craig Pass (between West Thumb and Old Faithful).

May 24, 2019: Weather permitting, Dunraven Pass and the Beartooth Highway will open. This means the upper loop in Yellowstone is fully open. This is often the date that the “plug” at Cooke City also opens, so we can offer tours through the amazing scenery of Sunlight Basin up through the Lamar Valley and back to Cody through the East Gate. This is definitely a great time to schedule a wildlife tour to look for wildlife babies. The “red dogs” (bison calves) will be jumping around and playing by this time.

The first days any of these stretches of roads open are usually rich in wildlife sightings. Give us a call today to book your preferred day(s) for a tour. 307-527-6316