Dunraven Pass Scheduled to Open May 27: A Field Guide to Navigating Yellowstone’s Road Openings, Upgrades, and Construction in 2022

Dunraven Pass Scheduled to Open May 27: A Field Guide to Navigating Yellowstone’s Road Openings, Upgrades, and Construction in 2022

May 22, 2022

After nearly two years of construction and upgrades Dunraven Pass between Canyon Village and Tower Junction in Yellowstone National Park is scheduled to open at noon May 27–weather permitting. This means visitors to the park’s North Entrance community of Gardiner, Montana, will once again have a shorter—and very scenic—distance to travel to Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon after watching bison, wolves, and other wildlife in the prized Northern Range and Lamar Valley.

Dunraven_Pass_Blog_7.png

Located between Gardiner and the park’s Northeast Entrance, the Lamar Valley is dubbed the “Serengeti of North America” because of its reputation for world-class wildlife watching. For the past two years visitors to this region, however, had to backtrack a couple of hours if they wanted to view the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its waterfalls. Now, an approximately 30-minute drive up and over Dunraven takes visitors to the Canyon Village Visitor Education Center. The Beartooth Highway, a mountainous section of U.S. Highway 212 that connects to Yellowstone’s Northeast Entrance, is also scheduled to open for travel that Friday making all entrances to Yellowstone officially open for summer.

Dunraven_Pass_Blog_8.png

Named for Lord Dunraven, the 4th Earl of Dunraven, a British politician, journalist, and sportsman who wrote extensively about Yellowstone following his 1874 visit with a colleague, Dunraven Pass is known for its sweeping mountain vistas and steep, winding, hairpin curves. After nearly $28 million in grant and fee dollars invested the road will feel a bit less treacherous. Upgrades include widened shoulders, improved parking, and safer pullouts. Most of the work was completed between Tower Junction and Chittenden Road on the northern portion of the 19-mile section of roadway.

Dunraven_Pass_Blog_2.png

This is exciting and long-awaited news for both return guests and first-time Yellowstone visitors. We suggest you grab yourself some breakfast and to-go lunch at one of Gardiner’s restaurants or grocery and supply stores and make a day out of it. Look for foraging bears, forest regrowth from 1988 wildfires, and views of the Yellowstone volcano’s caldera rim along this route before returning to Gardiner later in the evening to relax. If you’d prefer not to drive yourself you can also book a tour with a local company.

Dunraven_Pass_Blog_6.png

2022 Upgrades: Yellowstone River Bridge, Old Faithful to West Thumb, South Entrance

  • Starting later in fall visitors to the northeastern part of Yellowstone can expect 30-minute delays at Tower Junction when the Yellowstone River Bridge is scheduled to be replaced. A new bridge built upstream will replace the existing one, built in 1963 and now deemed structurally deficient. As construction takes place over three years the Yellowstone River Picnic Area and Wrecker Curve access road and parking area will be closed, although all hiking trails should remain open. Expect an enlarged picnic area and better pullouts and parking areas with access to trails, fishing, and viewpoints once the project is completed in 2025. The construction is scheduled to take place year-round.

  • As of May 13 the section of roadway between Old Faithful and West Thumb Geyser Basin will experience 30-minute delays as the road is repaved and improvements to drainage, culverts, and guardrails take place. Starting September 5, overnight closures from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. will occur. To avoid feeling rushed we suggest you consider staying at least two nights in Gardiner and take one day to explore the eastern side of Yellowstone including Hayden Valley and Yellowstone Lake; take the other day to explore the western side of the park including Norris and Old Faithful geyser basins.

  • As of May 13 construction is underway at Yellowstone’s South Entrance near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Grand Teton National Park at Lewis Bridge. Expect 20-minute delays and occasional overnight closures between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. in spring and fall. The bridge will be replaced by a new bridge constructed downstream with improved overlooks and walkways in the area. In the meantime, nearby pullouts and the trail to Lewis River Falls will be closed during construction. Visitors to Gardiner will only be impacted by this construction if they plan on traveling all the way through Yellowstone either north or south via the park’s South Entrance.

Dunraven_Pass_Blog_3.png

Construction North of Gardiner

If you’re traveling between Gardiner and the towns of Livingston and Bozeman, Montana, you’ll want to build in at least an extra half hour of drive time due to road construction at these locations. Livingston has a 2-mile stretch of roadway being worked on with periodic delays and road upgrades are happening on Interstate 90 between Livingston and Bozeman resulting in reduced speed limits. For information on expected delays south of Livingston visit the Montana Department of Transportation’s project updates page here: https://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/livingstonsouth/updates.aspx.

Real-time road reports for Yellowstone can be found by clicking here: https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm

We hope these suggestions help you plan a fun and smooth visit to the area during Yellowstone’s 150th year as the world’s first national park.

Chelsea DeWeese writes from her hometown of Gardiner, Montana, the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

follow us on Instagram