By Julia Barton DIGITAL PRODUCER
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. — Yellowstone National Park’s plan to reopen to the public following historic flooding last week will allow visitors into the south loop beginning Wednesday, June 22. After initially suggesting extensive damage on the north loop would prevent the area from opening for the remainder of the year, the National Park Service announced yesterday that a $50 million emergency funding allocation will help the park reopen the north loop within two weeks.
Visitors will be able to access the south loop via the East, West and South entrances to the park at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Areas accessible along the south loop include Madison, Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village, Canyon Village and Norris.
To manage visitation numbers while the park is only partially open, NPS has instituted an interim visitor access plan. Vehicles with a license plate ending in an even number are permitted to enter the park on even calendar days; odd plate numbers can enter on odd days. Plates without numbers are considered odd.
Commercial tours and motorcoaches, essential service vehicles and visitors with proof of overnight reservations inside of the park—such as camping or hotel reservations—will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number. Motorcycle groups may enter on even dates only.
The park plans to reopen the northern loop within two weeks, pending clean-up, repairs and final inspections of infrastructure along the north loop. In addition to the south loop, this would reopen approximately 80 percent of Yellowstone to visitors.
NPS director Chuck Sams and superintendent Cam Sholly announced on June 20 that the park would receive $50 million in emergency funding from the Federal Highway Administration for flood repairs. With this funding, the park will “restore temporary access” to Gardiner and Cooke City, according to NPS, among other sites.
Pre-existing efforts for road work within Yellowstone are being diverted to repair the Old Gardiner Road, an unpaved road from Gardiner into the park. NPS is working on temporary and permanent solutions to restore access to the North and Northeast entrances.
NPS advises visitors to monitor its flood recovery page for current conditions and updates.