A footbridge crossing Rescue Creek in Yellowstone National Park was washed out by recent flooding. All entrances to the park are closed until further notice.
All entrances to Yellowstone National Park were closed Monday morning as the park and surrounding region experience extensive flooding. Record high waters along the Yellowstone and Gallatin river drainages have caused slides, washouts, bridge failures and other problems. Some roads may remain closed for an extended period as crews assess and repair damaged infrastructure.
No inbound visitor traffic will be allowed into the park until conditions stabilize and the park can assess damage to roads and bridges and other facilities, park officials said in a statement released by the park’s public affairs office. This includes visitors with lodging and camping reservations.
Flooding has been especially heavy in the park’s northern section, knocking out power in some areas. Park managers are also monitoring strains on wastewater and water treatment facilities, and taking precautions to protect facilities.
“Our first priority has been to evacuate the northern section of the park where we have multiple road and bridge failures, mudslides and other issues,” said Yellowstone superintendent Cam Sholly. “The community of Gardiner is currently isolated, and we are working with the county and State of Montana to provide necessary support to residents, who are currently without water and power in some areas. Due to predictions of higher flood levels in areas of the park’s southern loop, in addition to concerns with water and wastewater systems, we will begin to move visitors in the southern loop out of the park later today in coordination with our in-park business partners.”
Sholly said it was “likely that the northern loop will be closed for a substantial amount of time.”
Preliminary assessments show multiple sections of roads throughout the park have been either washed out or covered in mud or rocks, and multiple bridges may be affected. Multiple roads in the southern portion of the park are also on the verge of being flooded, park officials said, further restricting access.
Visitors planning on coming to Yellowstone in the upcoming weeks should pay close attention to the status of road conditions, and check on road and entrance statuses before setting out.
Yellowstone officials said the park-wide closure was warranted because additional rainfall is forecasted, increasing the risk of having significant numbers day-use visitors stranded as a result of further incidents.
A combination of heavy winter snowpack, a wet spring with significant late-season snow accumulation, recent heavy rainfall and a series of warm days has resulted in flood levels on the Yellowstone River well beyond previous records.
Gateway communities in Montana, including Silver Gate, Red Lodge and Gardiner, are also suffering heavy flooding and major road and infrastructure damage. The National Park Service said it will work with gateway communities in Wyoming and Montana to evaluate flooding impacts and provide support to residents.
Travel and tourism officials in Cody, Wyoming—at Yellowstone’s East Entrance, where high waters have not resulted in major closures—announced telephone helplines Monday for stranded travelers or others seeking alternative accommodations. Travelers can call 1-307-586-1574 or 1-307-586-1571 for assistance booking accommodations in hotels and campgrounds.
“Our primary concern right now is the safety and comfort of visitors to the Cody Yellowstone region,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director of Cody Yellowstone, the marketing arm for the region that includes the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as areas inside of Yellowstone National Park and the valley east of the entrance. “Our local experts are ready to offer travelers assistance finding accommodations and navigating the region as safely as possible.”
To receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone, text “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions). Call (307) 344-2117 for a recorded message.
It is a sad day.
All the damage
Are the wildlife in the park OK?
Presumably, the animals will take it all in stride. High water may complicate migrations in the short term, but it shouldn’t turn out to be a major issue. But it will be a long road back for people who have lost their homes and businesses in the gateway towns.