Yellowstone National Park‘s south loop reopened to the public Wednesday morning, and some of the park’s biggest icons showed up for visitors in a big way.
If there were ever a way to welcome visitors back to Yellowstone National Park, this is it.
After historic flooding, Yellowstone (YELL) staff have worked tirelessly to reopen portions of the park. Typically, tens of thousands of visitors enter the park weekly in June, one of Yellowstone’s busiest months each year. Catastrophic flood damage, however, has left the park’s entire north loop compromised. But that wouldn’t stop park officials from doing everything they could to safely reopen the southern portion of the park.
They did so this morning at 8 AM MDT, June 22. Yellowstone’s faithful public showed up in droves, as did the park’s biggest icons. Some we knew would do their thing, such as Old Faithful (it’s in the name).
But no one could’ve predicted a picture-perfect bison showcasing himself right as Old Faithful erupted for an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds:
Photographer George Frey even managed to capture the bison, crowd, and Old Faithful’s iconic sign in the same shot as the enormous geyser spewed into the air:
As visitors’ first day back continues, Yellowstone is also updating the press on the hiccups they’re experiencing.
Yellowstone National Park’s Reopening Sees ‘Major Backups Initially’
“As the park expected, traffic entering through only three entrances (South, West, East) did cause major backups initially,” YELL’s press release begins. “However, backups have cleared at each entrance. By 12:30 p.m. only 20 cars were in line at the West Entrance. Park staff have monitored traffic throughout the day and reported light to medium activity in most areas. Norris Geyser Basin, one of the busiest destinations in the park, reported light activity,” the park continues.
Less than 5,000 vehicles would enter the south loop this Wednesday. Normally, the park would expect 10,000 or more vehicles on a June day like today. And thankfully, less than 1% of vehicles had to be turned around due to having the wrong license plate. If you plan to visit yourself in the coming weeks, be sure to see Outsider’s breakdown of the current license plate entry program to ensure you’re admittance.
The park will continue to monitor traffic and expects backups to be high in the mornings, but to slow by mid-day as per usual, the park cites. Traffic is backed up numerous miles at the West and South entrances most mornings during typical summer days at Yellowstone, remember.
“While it’s too early to tell if the license plate system worked, it appears to have done its job by cutting our normal traffic counts by half,” offers Superintendent Cam Sholly on Wednesday. “As we’ve discussed with our community partners, we will monitor this together and make adjustments if necessary.”
But in the end, “We’re happy to have visitors back in Yellowstone and appreciate the patience of the public and community partners as we continue working through this difficult situation,” Sholly concludes.
Welcome back to Yellowstone, America.
Be sure to stay up-to-date with park closures and openings on the Yellowstone National Park website. And as always, we’ll keep you updated right here on Outsider.