Yellowstone National Park Flooding Montana

A house sits in Rock Creek after floods washed away a road and a bridge in Red Lodge, Mont., Wednesday, June 15, 2022. 

Yellowstone National Park is reopening its southern loop to visitors on Wednesday morning a week after flooding roiled portions of the park.

Flooding that began June 13 and wreaked havoc across southwest Montana also caused evacuations, damage and closures in Yellowstone.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to visit.

Getting in

Flooding on the Gardner and Yellowstone rivers damaged roadways to the northern portions of Yellowstone, including washing out roads and bridges.

The North Entrance at Gardiner and Northeast Entrance near Cooke City and Silver Gate will remain closed for now as extensive repairs begin.

The West Entrance at West Yellowstone, the East Entrance at Cody, Wyoming, and the South Entrance at Jackson, Wyoming, will all open at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The southern loop — and the above three park entrances — are opening on Wednesday but it’s not going to be a free-for-all.

The park is rolling out an interim entry system it calls the “Alternating License Plate System,” aiming to limit the number of visitors who can visit per day by granting entrance based on odd/even days of the calendar.

How the entry system works

License plates ending in an even number, including zero, can enter on even days of the month.

License plates ending in an odd number can enter on odd days of the month.

Personalized plates with all letters will fall into the “odd category,” while personalized plates with a mix of letters and numbers will fall into odds or evens based on the last digit on the plate. Motorcycle groups may enter only on even days

Visitors attempting to enter on the wrong day will be turned away.

Are there exceptions?Visitors with proof of overnight reservations inside the park — including hotels, campgrounds and backcountry reservations — will be let in regardless of their license plate number.

Commercial tour buses and motorcoaches can enter on any day.

Essential services, like mail carriers, employees, delivery services and contractors can enter on any day.

Map of flood damage, status of roads in Yellowstone

Map of flood damage, status of roads in Yellowstone

What’s open inside the park

Once inside the park, visitors can drive the southern loop. Accessible areas and sights of interest include Madison, Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village, Canyon Village and Norris.

Visitor services at Old Faithful, West Thumb, Grant Village, Bridge Bay, Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Norris will be open. The West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center and Canyon village Visitor Education Center will also be open.

Closures

There are a few areas impacted by flooding on the southern loop that are closed until further notice. That includes: Canyon Village Lodges and Cabins, Canyon, Madison, Norris and Lewis Lake campgrounds, and the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and Trailside Museum.

Visitors may also not access the northern loop via Norris or Canyon Village.

Backcountry areas on the southern loop will be restricted for day use throughout the month. Overnight use will be open on July 1.

Park officials hinted at some reopening of the north loop during a press conference on Sunday, but exact opening dates — and what will be open on the north loop — is still unclear pending official announcements.

National Park Service Director Chuck Sams told reporters Sunday in Gardiner that the northern loop of the park, connecting the Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower areas with the Norris and Canyon areas, is planned to reopen within the next two weeks.

Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said on Sunday that he is “very confident” that at least commercial use authorization visitors, like guided wildlife tours, will be able to enter the park at the northern entrance at some point this summer.

In the meantime, the northern loop of the park and the north entrances will remain closed to visitors.

Flooding and mudslides extensively damaged portions of park roads, caused power outages and damaged water and wastewater systems at Canyon Village and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Damage to roadways

The North Entrance at Gardiner to Mammoth Hot Springs saw the road washed away in several places and a significant rockslide at Gardner Canyon.

Between Tower junction and the Northeast Entrance, segments of road washed away near Soda Butte Picnic area, and there were mudslides and downed trees.

Just south of Canyon Junction a segment of road is potentially compromised and closed for evaluation.

Crews are also evaluating bridges across the park.

What’s open around the park?

West Yellowstone, Cody and Jackson, Wyoming, were not impacted by flooding and are open to all visitors.

The gateway towns of Gardiner, Cooke City and Silver Gate are also open to visitors, but were impacted by flooding and are inaccessible if coming from inside Yellowstone National Park.

Gardiner is accessible through U.S. Highway 89 South, which reopened to the public on Monday.

The towns of Cooke City and Silver Gate are accessible through the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (Wyoming Highway 296). That route connects to Cody, Wyoming.

Some recreational and outdoor opportunities around those gateway towns are still impacted by flooding. For the most up-to-date information on what is available for visitors and tourists call or visit the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce and the Cooke City Chamber of Commerce.

Originally published on bozemandailychronicle.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.