CODY, WYO. — A bit more than two weeks after closing in the face of record flooding that washed out roads to two Montana gateway communities, Yellowstone National Park is reopening almost all its major roads to all visitors for the weekend.
Park officials announced Thursday that Yellowstone’s North Loop will reopen and an even/odd license plate entry system meant to control traffic will be suspended. Those changes take effect July 2, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office.
“We’re pleased to reopen the North Loop of Yellowstone to the visiting public less than three weeks after this major flood event,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly.
“We have attempted to balance major recovery efforts while reopening as much of the park as possible,” he said. “We have greatly appreciated the tremendous support of the Department of the Interior; National Park Service; Federal Highway Administration; and our congressional, community, county and state partners.”
The North Entrance from Gardiner, Montana and Northeast Entrance from Cooke City, Montana remain closed. Visitors entering through gates in Cody, Wyoming; West Yellowstone, Montana; and Grand Teton National Park to the south will now be able to access:
- Norris Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs
- Mammoth Hot Springs to Tower-Roosevelt
- Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass)
Park officials said Federal Highway Administration engineers have completed final bridge and road safety inspections, and that temporary repairs to the wastewater systems have been evaluated and will accommodate day use on the north loop.
Available services in the north loop will include general stores at Tower and Mammoth Hot Springs, and gasoline in both locations. Additional services may open in upcoming weeks.
Officials cautioned that high water remains in many waterways, and advised visitors to be aware of backcountry closures in the north loop due to hazardous conditions or damaged trails and bridges.
While North and Northeast entrances are closed and maintenance crews work to complete temporary repairs, visitors may access the park on foot through these entrances in order to recreate (such as fishing and hiking) in areas not identified as closed. The park will evaluate authorizing bicycle use through these entrances up to damaged road sections in the near future.
Park staff are working with commercial guides and outfitters in Gardiner and Cooke City/Silver Gate to further expand park access where possible. Yellowstone has reopened a 23-mile segment of the Beartooth Highway (from US-212/WY-296) junction to the ski hill parking lot), providing visitors access to this world-class scenic roadway.
Reconnecting the park to Gardiner and Cooke City/Silver Gate remains Yellowstone’s highest flood recovery priority, officials said, reminding visitors that these communities are open with access to the park as described above.
Yellowstone had implemented an Alternating License Plate System (ALPS) upon reopening the south loop June 22, 2022, to ensure visitor traffic did not overwhelm the south loop. The interim system worked very effectively at moderating traffic within the park, official said.
But with the opening of the north loop and 93% of the road system open, ALPS will be suspended effective July 2. Visitor entrances from East, West, and South will return to normal entrance procedures. Park staff will continue monitoring visitor use data, traffic counts, and the condition of infrastructure over the upcoming months to ensure visitor usage is not overwhelming capacity. The ALPS system may be reinstated if this becomes the case.
Most of Yellowstone’s southern backcountry will open to overnight use on Friday, July 1, however some trails and campsites will remain closed for repairs due to flood impacts, high water and bear management closures.
A large portion of the backcountry in the north remains closed as damage assessments continue. Many northern trails have been severely damaged and bridges washed away. Additional backcountry in the northern part of the park will reopen as repairs and final damage assessments are completed.
Visitors traveling to the park must stay informed about the current situation, changes in visitor entry requirements, and road conditions. The public should also use extreme caution in areas of high water.
Visitors should regularly monitor updates from the park on new openings or closures as recovery efforts continue.