Tourists get stuck in snow on Beartooth Pass after driving around road closure signs

Posted at 11:38 AM, May 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-03 13:38:58-04

(GREAT FALLS) On Tuesday, May 1, two men trying to get to the northeast gate of Yellowstone National Park had to be rescued by Park County (Wyoming) Search & Rescue after they ignored the posted “Road Closed” signs and got stuck in deep snow on the Beartooth Highway.

It happened about one mile northwest of the Pilot Creek parking area, west of the intersection of the Chief Joseph Highway.

John Ray Elmore Jr., age 60 of California and his father, John M. Elmore Sr., age 85 of Indiana,  were following directions from their GPS device when they became stuck in approximately a foot of snow on the highway. 

According to a Facebook post from the Park County Sheriff’s Office, the men passed at least two “Road Closed” signs before getting stuck, but said that their navigation device indicated the road to be open, so they continued around the signs.

Search & Rescue personnel were mobilized after a cell phone call at 1:30 p.m. from the victims disconnected before detailed information, including their condition and exact location, could be determined. 

SAR sent two ground teams equipped with snowmobiles to search the area. Once SAR found the two men, they solicited the help of a local resident who was able to tow the victims back onto the pavement using a 4-wheel drive pickup equipped with tire chains.

Park County Sheriff Scott Steward reminded residents and visitors alike to pay attention to all road signs, especially at this time of the year: “The road at the location of the closed signs may look clear and dry but conditions can change rapidly. Those signs are there for a reason and should not be ignored even if your electronic navigation device indicates otherwise.”

The two men were not injured. Once they were rescued, they decided to take a different route to reach Yellowstone National Park.

The Beartooth Highway website provides this overview:

The Beartooth Highway is a 68-mile travel corridor, beginning (at its eastern most terminus), just south of Red Lodge, Montana at an elevation of 6400 feet and ending (at its western most terminus) near the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone National Park and Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana, at an elevation of 7500 feet. In between those two elevations, the road rises to 10, 947 feet at Beartooth Pass in Wyoming.

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