Yellowstone South Gate

Siblings Zeauxee and Laramee Heil, of Twin Falls, Idaho, play on the Yellowstone National Park's southern entrance sign in May of 2020.

Cyclists looking for a quiet, car-free, early-season ride should cross Yellowstone National Park’s South Gate off their list.

As with Grand Teton National Park’s inner Teton Park Road, Yellowstone keeps some of its interior roads closed to motor vehicles for several weeks in spring while opening them to human-powered recreation.

But last week the park announced a permanent ban on bikes between the South Entrance and Grant Village during the spring shoulder season. Foot traffic there is still allowed.

“Usually there are high snowbanks, no place to get out of the road and no restrooms in that section,” Yellowstone spokeswoman Linda Veress said. “It wasn’t the safest place to ride a bike.”

There was no specific accident or incident that Veress had heard of that led to the change. Rather, springtime South Gate cycling was a source of “ongoing concern,” she said.

Use of Yellowstone’s southern entrance ahead of the gates opening to motorists is sparse compared to the more-accessible Teton Park Road. Often, biking there wasn’t an option at all: Because of road conditions the route never opened for cycling in 2018 and ’19, Veress said, and it was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although many roads in Yellowstone are now open to motorized travel, car-free cycling into Yellowstone will still be possible in the future via the Mammoth and West Yellowstone entrances.

Cyclists will be admitted through the Yellowstone South Gate come May 14, when the road opens to all types of permissible travel. There’s a possibility that there will be a short stretch after Nov. 8 when cycling will be allowed after the road closes to vehicles.

“They’ll make that determination in the fall, depending on what the conditions are,” Veress said.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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