Yellowstone Winter Rules Finalized: 15 Years in the Making
PHOTO: The National Park Service has released its final winter regulations for Yellowstone National Park. It took 15 years to craft the rules. Photo of Upper Geyser Basin courtesy of NPS.
October 23, 2013
JACKSON, Wyo. - A plan has been put in place to manage snowmobile and snowcoach use in Yellowstone National Park.
The National Park Service finalized the regulations Tuesday - a process that took 15 years.
There will be more vehicle traffic overall than current levels, said Tim Stevens, Northern Rockies regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, but requirements to cut noise and carbon monoxide emissions will be stricter.
"The Park Service has made the right decision and has struck the right balance between protecting park resources and allowing a reasonable level of visitor access to the park in wintertime," Stevens said.
The regulations don't count snow machines individually. Instead, the focus is on how many "transportation events" occur each day, and there's flexibility to meet days of higher demand.
There was some grumbling along the way as the rules were crafted, Stevens said - but also an understanding that the explosion of unregulated snowmobile traffic in the late 1980s and early '90s had to be addressed.
"Everyone, including the snowmobile industry, agreed that we had a problem on our hands," he said. "When you have a haze of blue smoke encircling the park entrances, it's pretty clear we've got a problem."
The new regulations also set speed limits of 35 miles per hour for snowmobiles and 25 mph for snowcoaches.
The Park Service regulation is online at s3.amazonaws.com.