Yellowstone reopening south loop Wednesday — but with limitations

A Yellowstone National Park ranger is seen standing near a road wiped out by flooding along the Gardner River the week before, near Gardiner, Mont., on Sunday.

A Yellowstone National Park ranger is seen standing near a road wiped out by flooding along the Gardner River the week before, near Gardiner, Mont., on Sunday. (Matthew Brown, Associated Press)

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YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — The nation's first national park will be reopening its south loop on Wednesday after heavy flooding devastated the park a week ago.

According to the National Park Service, the park will reopen the east, west, and south entrances at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, June 22.

Portions of the park's northern loop are expected to reopen in two weeks or less after completion of clean-up, repairs and final inspection, according to a Facebook update.

These repairs will provide visitor access to Dunraven Pass, Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris.

National Park Service Director Chuck Sams and Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly also announced $50 million to begin recovery efforts. This money will be used to restore temporary access to Gardiner and Cooke City, two communities at the northern end of the park that were hit hard by flooding.

To ease visitor demand, an "alternating license plate system" will be implemented to limit the amount of visitors in the park at a given time.

For this system, the National Park Service will allow vehicle entry based on the last digit of a vehicle's license plate number. License plates with the last digit being odd will be allowed entry on odd days of the month, and last digits that are even will be allowed in on even days of the month.

Customized license plates with all letters will be treated as odd plates.

Exceptions will be allowed for visitors with proof of overnight accommodations regardless of license plate number. Overnight accommodations include hotel, campgrounds and backcountry reservations.

Cam Sholly said in a news release they will be monitoring the system's effectiveness and may make adjustments if necessary. Additionally, Sholly said they will reopen new sections of the park as repairs are made.

"It is critical for visitors to stay informed about this interim system as we evaluate its effectiveness," Sholly said. "They should plan ahead and be patient with us as we are still managing significant recovery while moving into this operational phase."

What will be open:

  • Backcountry areas that are accessible by road will open for day use only until July 1. Overnight use from trailheads will also reopen July 1.
  • Old Faithful, West Thumb, Grant Village, Bridge Bay, Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Norris visitor services will reopen.
  • West Yellowstone Visitor Center and Canyon Village Visitor Center will also be reopening.
  • Canyon, Madison, Norris and Lewis Lake campgrounds will remain closed until further notice. Canyon Village Lodges and Cabins and Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and Trailside Museum will also remain closed.

Visitors can keep updated on the park's website and social media.

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U.S.Outdoors & Rec
Carlene Coombs


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