Yellowstone National Park Flood: Reopening of Southern Loop Next Week is ‘Highly Possible,’ But With a Catch

by Jon D. B.

“Visitors traveling to park in coming weeks must stay informed about current situation, changes in visitor entry requirements, and road and weather conditions,” Yellowstone National Park (YELL) announces.

YELL offers good news for hopeful visitors in their full update this Friday, June 17. As the park continues efforts to recover from historic flooding, officials say “limited reopening” is “highly possible next week.”

Reopening, however, is only possible on the park’s south loop, and with “certain visitor entrance modifications,” their update cites. But it is good news, indeed, that Yellowstone is preparing for reopening the southern portion of the park. As of now, the West, South, and East entrances are targeted for reopening as early as next week.

To make this happen, the National Park Service (NPS) continues to engage over 1,000 partners in surrounding gateway communities, counties, and states to brief on flood damage impacts and collaborate on reopening strategies.

But what will this reopening look like? And how will it affect those looking to visit the park?

What Will Reopening of Yellowstone National Park’s South Loop Look Like?

Currently, “NPS is analyzing the carrying capacity of the south loop and working closely with partners to develop appropriate visitor management actions.”

In short: YELL needs to ensure they can safely accommodate visitors within that portion of the park alone. If this comes to fruition for next week, park superintendent Cam Sholly says that a new park voucher and/or reservation system will be put in place to limit park capacity.

Officially, the park describes their goal for the southern loop as follows:

‘Develop reservation/timed entry system options for implementation with NPS visitor use experts.’

“The park intends to reopen the south loop sometime next week with tnew visitor management measures instituted (more information will be released soon),” the park echoes.

Visitors planning to visit should continue to check the Yellowstone website and social media for updates on these changes. Once they’re in place, Outsider will have the full details for you, too.

Yellowstone Also Working to Open ‘Other Potential Sections’ of the Park

Additionally, NPS is working to determine what other potential sections of the park are possible to reopen for the 2022 season. “Decisions will depend on extent of damage and the ability of the NPS to safely open additional sections as the year progresses,” the park cites.

“Although access to Yellowstone National Park will be less than normal until further notice, there are still incredible opportunities for recreation, wildlife viewing, and great experiences in the park’s gateway communities,” YELL adds.

Those gateway communities greatly need our patronage through this catastrophe. They are:

  • Gardiner, Montana
  • Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana
  • West Yellowstone, Montana
  • Cody, Wyoming
  • Jackson, Wyoming
  • As well as surrounding areas in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

“Yellowstone is going to do everything we can to safely reopen the park,” Sholly added in this week’s press briefing. “This will start with the Southern Loop. The Southern Loop should be open and ready for access relatively soon.”

Here’s to hoping, as initial damage assessments are ongoing. NPS does not yet have an estimate for Yellowstone’s full reopening, but Outsider will keep you up to date.