CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Two men drove around at least two road-closed signs due to faulty navigation device information while trying to get to Yellowstone National Park and had to be rescued from deep snow, sheriff’s officers in Wyoming said Thursday.
Park County authorities said 60-year-old John Ray Elmore Jr. of Los Angeles and his father, 85-year-old John M. Elmore Sr. of Nashville, Indiana, likely won’t be cited for using the road northwest of Cody.
The road has been closed and unplowed since fall. Snow still covers much of the route, but the men said their navigation device showed it was open.
Their Nissan SUV got stuck Tuesday about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the last road-closed sign. The men called for help on a cellphone.
Rescuers got them out with help from a resident with a pickup truck.
Many roads in and around Yellowstone National Park remain covered with snow and unpassable. In Wyoming, driving around a road-closed sign is a big no-no, possibly punishable by a $420 fine.
The men got stuck in snow about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Cody on Beartooth Highway, a mile or so past the last road-closed sign.
Their call for help was dropped before they could say where they were and that they were unhurt, but rescuers soon found them. A resident with a pickup truck and tire chains pulled their small Nissan SUV out of the snow and the men decided to take a different route into the park, Park County Search and Rescue Coordinator Lance Mathess said.
“It does happen maybe once or twice year, where tourists don’t know where they’re going. The residents know better than to go up there,” Mathess said.
The men probably won’t be ticketed because they’re not from Wyoming and didn’t come into contact with a sheriff’s deputy, Mathess said.
Efforts to reach the men were unsuccessful. They faced a fairly long drive to get to the park if they didn’t head to the East Entrance, which is 64 miles (103 kilometers) west of Cody but still closed for the season until at least Friday. The next-closest route was a 230-mile (370-kilometer) detour into Montana.
The Beartooth Highway is among the last of the region’s mountain roads that is completely plowed but typically not until Memorial Day or later.
Yellowstone’s summer season brings as many as 900,000 visitors a month and a range of rescue scenarios, from dehydrated hikers to tourists falling in hot springs.
Around the time the men were being rescued, a bison surprised a hiker as she came around a bend in a trail near Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone.
The bison dropped its head and butted 72-year-old Virginia Junk of Boise, Idaho, in the thigh, pushing her from the path.
She was treated for minor injuries and taken to a hospital.