DOI News  



Yellowstone National Park News Release



Final Winter Use Rule For Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks Published

in Federal Register


The final rule required to implement the March 2003 Record of Decision (ROD) for winter use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway has been finalized and published on Thursday, December 11, 2003, in the Federal Register.The rule becomes effective immediately when the parks open for the winter season on December 17, 2003.


The final rule implements a decision that strikes a balance between phasing out all snowmobile useóas required by a previous ruleóand allowing for unlimited snowmobile use of the parks.The decision addresses the resource impacts identified during the winter use planning process and assures, through the components of the decision, that park resources and values are protected.†††††


The final rule requires, among other things, strict daily limits on the number of snowmobiles that will be allowed in the parks; guided access for both commercial and non-commercial snowmobiles in order to protect wildlife; and addresses air emissions and impacts to the natural soundscape through the requirement of best available technology (BAT) requirements for snowmobiles.The foundation of the rule is an adaptive management program that will assess the effectiveness of the components of the March 2003 ROD, allowing for changes to winter use to ensure park goals are met.


For the winter season of 2003-2004, the rule requires the following changes for Yellowstone National Park:


         Only 950 snowmobiles will be allowed in the park each day, and all snowmobiles entering the park must have a snowmobile entrance reservation.If traveling with a commercial guide (80 percent of all snowmobile entries will be commercially guided), reservations will be made through that company.

         If traveling independently and operating a personal or rented snowmobile, you can make a snowmobile entrance reservation by calling Xanterra Parks & Resorts at (307) 344-7311. There is a cost for the snowmobile entrance reservation ($10 per snowmobile for one day; $3 per snowmobile for each extra day), and visitors will still be required to pay the park entrance fee ($15 per snowmobile for one day; $20 per snowmobile for seven days).These reservations are not transferable without the authorization of the Superintendent.

         All commercially guided operators will be required to use snowmobiles that meet the parkís best available technology (BAT) requirements.Currently, several models of snowmobiles produced by Arctic Cat and Polaris have been certified as meeting these new noise and pollution requirements.The list of approved BAT snowmobiles is available on the parkís web site at

         For non-commercially guided snowmobiles, BAT snowmobiles are not required until the 2004-2005 winter season.

         All snowmobile operators are required to have a valid driverís license; no learner permits are allowed.

         Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park continue to be restricted to traveling on roads and parking lots specifically groomed for their use.Off-road travel, sidehilling, or berm-riding is prohibited.Groomed roadways in Yellowstone National Park comprise around one percent of the parkís total acreage.


Beginning the winter of 2004-2005, the following changes will be implemented for Yellowstone National Park:


         All snowmobiles that enter the park must be BAT.

         All snowmobile operators (80 percent commercial/20 percent non-commercial) must be accompanied by a guide who has successfully completed a National Park Service-approved training program.


Actions to be implemented in Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway include:


         Daily snowmobile limits will be implemented.Seventy-five snowmobiles per day will be allowed on both the Continental Divide Snowmobile Trail and the Grassy Lake Road.Forty snowmobiles per day will be allowed on the frozen surface of Jackson Lake, and 250 snowmobiles per day on the oversnow route from Flagg Ranch to the South Entrance of Yellowstone.

         Snowmobilers traveling north from Flagg Ranch must have a reservation to enter Yellowstone National Park.Eighty percent of the 250 daily entries on that road segment will be commercially guided.

         Snowplanes will continue to be prohibited on Jackson Lake.Limited snowmobile use will be permitted on the lake for the purpose of ice fishing; snowmobilers must have a valid Wyoming fishing license and fishing gear in their possession.

         For this winter, BAT requirements will apply only to those snowmobiles being operated under the terms of a concessions contract.Beginning the winter season of 2004-2005, all snowmobiles will be required to meet BAT requirements.

         All snowmobile operators are required to have a valid driverís license; no learner permits are allowed.