YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — A week has passed since historic floods caused severe damage in Yellowstone National Park, devastating the park’s infrastructure and its surrounding communities.

On Sunday, park officials announced that in addition to the park’s southern loop reopening on June 22, they plan to reopen the northern loop in two weeks or less following the completion of clean-up, repairs and final inspection of the area’s infrastructure.

This will allow visitors to access Dunraven Pass, Tower, Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris, opening visitor access to approximately 80 percent of Yellowstone National Park. Additional details on access will be announced in the coming weeks.  

Additionally, National Park Service Director Chuck Same and Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly announced $50 million of emergency funding to kick-start recovery efforts from record-breaking floods. 

This initial $50 million will be used to restore temporary access to Gardiner and Cooke City, Montana, along with other additional sites.

Plans are also being finalized for improving the Old Gardiner Road for temporary access between Yellowstone and Gardiner. In partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, road construction crews and materials that were already in the park for a previously scheduled road project to repair 22 miles of the Grand Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb Geyser Basin will be diverted to the Old Gardiner Road project.   

The NPS currently anticipates the Old Gardiner Road will be substantially improved over the upcoming months, ensuring that essential emergency services, food, supplies and other administrative needs will be available throughout the winter months. As work proceeds through the summer, the NPS will look for opportunities to restore limited visitor access at the park’s North Entrance. Emergency environmental and historic preservation compliance is underway in accordance with the National Historic Preservation and Environmental Policy Acts. Permanent reconstruction options are being developed, and alternatives will be completed in the upcoming months.  

In addition to plans to reopen Yellowstone’s northern loop much sooner than initially anticipated, the NPS is working with the Federal Highway Administration on a range of temporary and permanent options to restore access to Silver Gate and Cooke City at the park’s Northeast Entrance. Currently, the Northeast Entrance Road is impassible between Lamar Valley and Silver Gate. Cost, funding and timelines are not yet available for these short-or long-term repairs to the Northeast Entrance Road but will be released as soon as possible.   

Announced on June 18, park officials will restore access to the southern loop of the park at 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 22, via the East (Cody), West (West Yellowstone) and South (Grand Teton/Jackson) entrances. Accessible areas include Madison, Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village, Canyon Village and Norris. To balance the demand for visitor access, park resource protection and economic interests of the communities, the park will institute an interim visitor access plan based on license plate numbers.

To learn more about the alternate license plate entry system, visit Yellowstone’s flood recovery webpage.  

Buckrail @ Caroline

Caroline Chapman is a Community News Reporter. She enjoys reading non-fiction, skiing, hiking, and playing piano in her downtime. Her favorite aspect about living in Jackson is the genuine admiration that Wyomingites share for the land and the life that it sustains.