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May 02, 2013 7:55 am

Yellowstone gate opens this Friday

Written by Tribune Staff

Winter is over (at least officially) for Yellowstone National Park’s East Entrance.

Beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, visitors will be able to travel through the park’s East Gate to many popular park destinations including Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs and Fishing Bridge.

The West Gate opened for the summer season two weeks ago, while the North Entrance is open year-round. The park’s South Entrance is set to open May 10, with the Northeast Gate access from the Chief Joseph Highway following sometime around early June.

All the openings depend on Yellowstone’s weather, which is unpredictable and can be cold, windy and snowy this time of year.

Up-to-date information about park roads is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117 or visiting www.nps.gov/yell/conditions.htm.

Yellowstone managers planned to delay the East and South gates’ openings because of federal budget cuts. However, the Cody and Jackson communities raised money to pay state plow crews to get the roads ready by their traditional dates.

The early, quieter parts of Yellowstone’s summer season are a popular visiting time for locals, but they also draw visitors from around the world.

Cody Country Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Scott Balyo said businesses are excited and ready for the opening; he said visitors have appeared enthused as well.

“There’s been a steady increase in walk-in traffic and phone calls this week as people prepare to enter the park,” Balyo said. “And that was made possible by the businesses, individuals and groups who donated to our snowplowing fund.”

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