MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — Yellowstone National Park continues to make major progress with short- and long-term efforts to reconnect the park to Gardiner and Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana. 

In mid-June, Yellowstone experienced a 500-year flood event that caused severe damage to roads, water and wastewater systems, power lines and other critical park infrastructure. The most significant damage severed access to the park via the North Entrance and Northeast Entrance roads. One month after the historic event and the park closing temporarily, 93% of park roadways were reopened

The park asks the public to understand the differences in timelines between short-term construction solutions that will reopen the North Entrance and Northeast Entrance roads to the public later this year, and the long-term reconstruction efforts that will take place over the upcoming years.   

North Entrance Road

Short-term reconnection (completion expected in October 2022)  
Efforts to make the Old Gardiner Road two lanes have continued with approximately 1.5 miles of the four-mile road already at two lanes. Substantial culvert work, slope stabilization and retainment has occurred. This road is expected to be passable for regular traffic by Oct. 15, 2022, however, additional improvements will continue beyond that date, weather permitting. Once completed, this temporary road will allow for regular vehicle access, including visitors, to travel between Mammoth Hot Springs and Gardiner going into the winter season. This road will be used as the primary access route until a permanent reconstruction option is completed in upcoming years. This project is being completed with support from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and funded largely by FHWA Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO). HK Contractors Inc. is the primary construction company under contract to complete this project.  

The goal is to turn the single-lane Old Gardiner Road into a paved two-lane road by October 15. Photo: Jacob W. Frank // NPS

Long-term reconstruction (estimated multi-year)  
The National Park Service (NPS) is working closely with the FHWA to prepare and analyze a range of long-term alternatives for permanent reconstruction of the primary road between Mammoth Hot Springs and Gardiner. This road is closed and not drivable due to several washed-out road segments. The criteria for selection will focus largely on alternatives that have the least environmental impact, least visual impact, are most resilient to future natural disasters, most expeditious and cost effective and take advantage of existing road infrastructure. Timelines for long-term reconstruction will be predicated on which alternative is selected. The public will have ample opportunities to comment as this planning process proceeds.   

Northeast Entrance Road

Short-term reconnection (completion expected in October 2022)   
Efforts to repair approximately five damaged sections of the Northeast Entrance Road (between Slough Creek and Barronette Meadows) are underway and will be accelerating substantially in the upcoming weeks. Plans and designs have been completed for each damaged section. This project is expected to be passable for regular traffic by Oct. 15, 2022, however, additional improvements will continue beyond that date, weather permitting. Once completed, these temporary repairs will allow for regular vehicle access, including visitors, to travel between Tower Junction and Cooke City/Silver Gate. This project is being completed with support from FHWA and funded largely by ERFO. Oftedal Contractors Inc. is the primary construction company under contract to complete this project.  

Long-term reconstruction (estimated multi-year)   
NPS is working closely with FHWA to prepare and analyze a range of long-term alternatives for permanent reconstruction of the Northeast Entrance Road. Similar to the North Entrance Road, the criteria for selection will focus largely on alternatives that have the least environmental impact, least visual impact, are most resilient to future natural disasters, most expeditious and cost effective and take advantage of existing road infrastructure. Timelines for long-term reconstruction will be predicated on which alternative is selected. The public will have ample opportunity to comment.  

Repairs for the North and Northeast Entrance roads are extensive and being done as quickly as possible. Should timelines change due to early winter weather or other events, Yellowstone will communicate with the public and stakeholders.   

Gardiner and Cooke City/Silver Gate remain open with access to the park via foot, bicycles, and horseback in approved areas.   

Approximately 94% of the Yellowstone backcountry is open. View the Backcountry Situation Report for details.   

As the park recovers, it’s critical that visitors traveling to the park in the coming weeks stay informed about what’s open and closed.   

Buckrail @ Julie

Julie Ellison is a writer and photographer based in Victor, Idaho. She seeks out stories that reflect the unique social issues of this region and elevate the fascinating individuals who live here. Her favorite things are coffee, reading, climbing, bikes, and dogs.