Yellowstone National Park opened the 49-mile stretch of road between West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to bicyclists last weekend, about three weeks before the route opens to vehicle traffic.

The route to Old Faithful from West Yellowstone opens to automobile traffic on April 26. There is no spring bicycle-only access toward Old Faithful or Canyon.

A bicycle trip into Yellowstone this time of year can include quickly changing weather, and snow and ice on portions of the road, bears, bison, elk, wolves and other wildlife could be encountered. No services are available, and cyclists should expect to encounter and yield to snowplows or other vehicles.

Bicyclists are required to ride single file and follow all other rules of the road. They are strongly encouraged to carry bear spray, should be prepared to turn around and backtrack when encountering wildlife on the road, and must stay out of closed areas.

Riders need to have a plan for self rescue or repair and be prepared to be out in severe winter conditions for an extended period of time in the event they experience a mechanical breakdown, injury or other emergency. Cellphone coverage throughout the park is sparse and unreliable for communicating emergencies.

Cyclists are urged to call 307-344-2107 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays for updated road access information, or call 307-344-2113 for 24-hour weather information before committing to any park ride. Additional planning information is also available online at www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/springbike.htm.

Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.

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