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  1. Default Indiana to Yellowstone this December 2012

    Hello All,

    My husband and I are planning a road trip to Yellowstone this winter(december christmas-new year week). The plan is to drive from Indianapolis to Yellowstone Bozeman Park entrance

    We have minimal experience driving in snow conditions. We have about 10 days off and planning to stay 5 days in yellowstone.

    a. google maps suggest three routes (94W and I-90W, I-90W, I-80W and I-90W). Which is a better route considering the winter
    b. How should we prepare for winter driving?
    c. we are planning to rent a car ...any suggestions on type to be rented to handle the conditions?
    d. Any mountain passes to watch out for?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    You do realize that only a very small portion of Yellowstone will be accessible? The only entrance that will be open is the (north) US-89 entrance from Livingston and Gardiner. It is only open as far as Mammoth Hot Springs, and the road from there to the (northeast) Cooke City entrance through the Lyman Valley is maintained. It is not open past Cooke City, so that's not an option for entering the park. ALL other Yellowstone roads are closed to wheeled traffic for the winter.

    The "best" route all depends on the weather and road conditions at the time of the trip. It could be any of those.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Long Way for Not Much

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Although Yellowstone is technically 'open' 365 days a year, during the winter the only road that is maintained (plowed) is the one from the North Entrance (at Gardiner, south of Bozeman) to the Northeast Entrance (at Cooke). Unless you are proficient at cross country skiing or rent a snowmobile, you will not be able to get to Old Faithful or any of the other thermal hot springs in the park; you will not be able to get to Yellowstone Lake; and most of the wildlife will be in winter mode, moving minimally if not outright hibernating.

    Then, even if you still want to go all that way for a minimal visit to the Park, you won't have as much time as you think. It's three days each way between Indianapolis and the Park, leaving you four days in the Park, assuming good weather all the way. If you run into snow that forces you off the road for a day, a distinct possibility, then you'll have even less time.

    Your choice of route should be made at almost the last minute and would depend on the weather forecast for the various routes. Your choice of car should simply be whatever you are most comfortable with. Winter driving skills, honed over many tough seasons, are what are required for winter driving. A big hulking brute of a vehicle that you are not familiar with will just give you a false sense of security and has the very real potential to lead you into situations that you otherwise wouldn't attempt - and to get you stuck in them.

    Personally, if at all possible, I would put this trip off until at least mid- to late May when you will be able to see far more of the Park and still be well ahead of the tourist crowds.


  4. Default

    Thank you both for the response.

    Looks like i have to push it out to May

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Other areas?

    Do you still have the time for a road trip?

    Plenty of other places to go!

    You might find our Routes section a good place to do some dreaming!


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Another great time to visit Yellowstone is mid to late September. The summer crowds are gone, and enough facilities are still open. This will also let you enter the park via the Beartooth Highway, which usually isn't open till after Memorial Day.

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