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Cue The Drama: Yellowstone Tourism Is About To Begin

Snowy Road

Tourist season is about to get underway in Yellowstone, and already there’s been one rescue on a snow-covered road.

A Cody tow truck driver says he received a call in the early morning hours last Thursday to rescue a family trying to get to Yellowstone in a rented Jeep.  The problem was they traveled four miles down a road that was marked as “closed.”  They were stuck for six hours before being rescued and officials say they got lucky.

The family was headed toward Cooke City, Montana on their way to Yellowstone on a road that is hardpack surface from snowmobiles, according to the tow truck driver Zac Beardall.  He tells Cowboy State Daily that just under the hardpack is a very fluffy and dense snow.  “If you break through that hard crust, you’re just kind of planted where you’re at.  That road wasn’t great, we got stuck ourselves going up (to make the rescue).”

He said the family was stuck in the Jeep for nearly six hours before they were able to get a signal out to law enforcement.  It could have turned out much differently if the signal hadn’t been sent.

Beardall says the call for the family rescue isn’t the last one he’ll get this month.  “This time of year, sometimes we’re getting calls to go out every day and help a stuck tourist,” Beardall told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “They might go out looking for wild horses in the McCullough Peaks. They might get sent down the wrong road and drive out into the oil patch and get stuck. We’re always going and rescuing people.”

It took about three-and-a-half hours to get the Jeep unstuck and back to the main road, where the family happily went back on their spring vacation heading toward the North Fork Highway, on Beardall’s recommendation.

“They’d been going to Yellowstone because their kid is in the fourth grade and has a pass to see all of the parks for free,” Beardall said. “So, I figured they could drive up the North Fork, because it’s the Yellowstone Ecosystem, so they can experience the park without being into it.”

He also told them how to get to Mount Rushmore and Devils Tower, so they could still take in some incredible sights before the trip ended.

Since tourist season is about to kick off, Beardall recommends anyone driving to Yellowstone (or any other national park) to be aware of inclement weather and how it could impact the route.

Avoiding mountainous areas with limited cellphone service is good advice.  He also said GPS isn’t always correct, so it’s best to use an atlas to look up the roads you’re about to travel.

And keeping eyes wide open for “road closed” signs is a must, he said.

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