MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — Yellowstone National Park (YNP) in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration has determined that the Old Gardiner Road (a limited-access road between Gardiner, Montana and Mammoth Hot Springs) will open to regular traffic no later than Nov. 1.
The two-lane project has been extended up to two weeks to ensure over 5,000 feet of guardrail are properly installed for traffic safety. The park has also asked the Federal Highway Administration to build a new quarter-mile approach road into Mammoth Hot Springs after the project was underway to avoid a 12-15% steep grade on the original road. This new approach has required additional engineering and design to provide a safe road base to handle the 2,000-3,000 vehicles per day that enter the park from the North Entrance in Gardiner.
“We have set incredibly aggressive time frames for these repairs and our contractors have worked at lightning speed to get this road safely reopened,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “It’s essential that we do not cut corners and we ensure the road meets required safety standards prior to opening. It’s also essential that we finish the job correctly, so we avoid any problems going into next year.”
The Old Gardiner Road was determined to be the best and only option to quickly reconnect Mammoth Hot Springs to Gardiner, after the floods in mid-June. Originally established in the 1880s as a stagecoach route, the single-lane dirt road has been expanded to two lanes over its entire four-mile length. The paving of this road began this week, and nearly one mile of guardrail will be installed between Oct.10 and 20.
If the Old Gardiner Road is completed prior to Nov. 1, the park will open it to public travel sooner. The Northeast Entrance Road (Tower Junction to the Northeast Entrance in Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana) is expected to open as planned on Oct. 15 to regular traffic.
Yellowstone is coordinating with Montana and Wyoming and a seven-mile section of road between Cooke City and the Pilot Creek Trailhead (known locally as the plug) will be plowed, if necessary until the Old Gardiner Road is completed. This will ensure continued access to the communities of Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana.
For more details on road openings and the ongoing recovery from June’s flood event click here.