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Yellowstone National Park to reopen with restrictions after heavy floods

June 19 2022
4 min read
yellowstone national park damage
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There's good news for travelers planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park in the coming months. After shutting down last week due to damaging floods, portions of the park will reopen this week.

Yellowstone's south loop will be open again on June 22, the National Park Service announced Saturday. But park officials have significant restrictions on who can get in an effort to avoid overcrowding as parts of the park are still closed.

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(Photo by Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service via Getty Images)

The north loop, which was most heavily impacted by the floodwaters, will remain closed for what officials expect will be a "substantial length of time." The map below shows what will be open and closed.

(Map courtesy of National Park Service)

Last week's closure marked the first time Yellowstone National Park had shut down in 34 years.

The problems stemmed from what the National Park Service said were unprecedented rainfall amounts which triggered rockslides and mudslides on top of flooding. The rain began June 12 and led to the evacuation of more than 10,000 visitors. Flooding caused severe damage to park roads, power lines, wastewater systems and other critical infrastructure. In the heavily impacted north loop, park officials say many sections of the road are completely gone.

A 5-mile road between the gateway community of Gardiner and Mammoth Hot Springs suffered the heaviest damage, park officials said, noting portions of the park suffered the effects of melting snow on top of the 2-3 inches of rain.

“We have made tremendous progress in a very short amount of time but have a long way to go," Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement Saturday.

Park officials are in the process of evaluating certain key roads in the park's northern section that might be able to reopen prior to the end of this season on November 1, but that remains in question at this point.

Related: Complete guide to visiting Yellowstone National Park

Limitations on who can enter

Because a sizable portion of Yellowstone National Park will remain closed for the foreseeable future, park officials are concerned that the south loop could quickly become overcrowded.

To ease the burden on the park, officials will alternate be monitoring vehicle license plate numbers. If the last number on your plate is an odd number, you can enter the park on odd-numbered days of the month. If the last number on your plate is even, you can enter it on even-numbered days. Vehicles with license plates that do not meet the qualifications for a particular day will be turned away.

There are some exceptions though. Visitors with overnight reservations at the park -- including hotel, campground and backcountry bookings -- will be allowed to enter regardless of their license plate number.

Buses will also be allowed to enter on any day.

(Photo by Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service via Getty Images)

Looking ahead to the rest of the season

While National Park Service officials acknowledged there is a substantial road to recovery at Yellowstone National Park, they also indicated a need to balance the economic needs of surrounding communities, which benefit greatly from the tourism dollars the park brings in each season.

As crews work to clean up and repair infrastructure and resources in the hard-hit north loop, there's no doubt last week's floods will place limits on how visitors can enjoy the park in 2022. This week's reopening of the south loop means visitors with flights and lodging already booked should be able to find ways to salvage their trip.

Featured photo by National Park Service via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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