Yellowstone National Park Flood: See the Full Damage Breakdown and What it Will Take to Reopen the Park

by Jon D. B.

Yellowstone National Park‘s breakdown of historic flood damage and list of repair objectives show the long road ahead for America’s first national park.

“We have made tremendous progress in a very short amount of time but have a long way to go,” Superintendent Cam Sholly offers for Yellowstone’s latest update amidst historic flooding. In their June 17 release to media, YELL lists out the full extent of park damage (images here). Park officials also lay out their objectives for repairing and reopening the park – all of which you can find below.

“All emergency and life safety objectives within the park have been accomplished or stabilized within the first 96 hours of the flood event, without major injury or death,” Sholly continues for the report. “We have an aggressive plan for recovery in the north and resumption of operations in the south. We appreciate the tremendous support from National Park Service and Department of the Interior leadership,” he offers.

Yellowstone National Park Flood Damage Breakdown:

  • Aerial assessments conducted Monday, June 13 by Yellowstone National Park show major damage to several park roads:
    • North Entrance (Gardiner, Montana) to Mammoth Hot Springs. Road washed out in multiple places, significant rockslide in Gardner Canyon
    • Tower Junction to Northeast Entrance. Segment of road also washed out near Soda Butte Picnic Area, mudslides, downed trees
    • Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass). Mudslide also on road
    • Canyon Junction to Fishing Bridge. Segment of road just south of Canyon Junction is also compromised and collapsed overnight on June 15-16. Repairs are underway.
  • Many sections of road in these areas are completely gone. They will require substantial time and effort to reconstruct or relocate and build
  • Furthermore, roads may not be able to be rebuilt in place and will need to be relocation
    • The NPS will make every effort to repair these roads as soon as possible

“This first 96 hours has been critical to be able to focus on our life safety objectives,” Sholly amidst the damage. Currently, Yellowstone officials are working on “stabilizing emergency conditions while preparing plans for recovery.”

Find those plans below in the form of Yellowstone’s Objectives.

NPS Objectives for Yellowstone National Park’s Rehabilitation

North Loop (Primary Flood Recovery Zone)

  1. Ensure safety of employees, visitors, community residents and partners
  2. Restore and maintain basic services, including, power, water, and wastewater 
  3. Restore temporary and permanent access between Yellowstone and Gardiner
  4. Restore temporary and permanent road access through the Northeast Entrance Road
  5. Restore access to the Yellowstone backcountry
  6. Engage communities, local, state, and federal stakeholders, and media

South Loop (Operations Zone)

  1. Ensure safety of employees, visitors, and also partners
  2. Repair damaged sections of roads and infrastructure in preparation of limited south loop reopening. In addition to inspecting critical infrastructure (bridges, wastewater systems)
  3. Conduct extensive community outreach with gateways to identify, and also determine visitor use management actions necessary to host visitation on the south loop
  4. Develop reservation/timed entry system options for implementation with NPS visitor use experts
  5. Ensure internal business partners can also prepare for visitor operations in the south loop
  6. Develop appropriate communications strategy on opening of south loop

To stay up to date on park reopening, visit the Yellowstone National Park website daily.

You can also read more of Superintendent Sholly’s commentary on the disaster here. In addition, find the park’s latest updates on reopening here.