Yellowstone National Park’s Northern Portion To Remain Closed For ‘Substantial Length of Time’ Amid Flood Damage

by Jon D. B.

Yellowstone National Park‘s Public Affairs Office cites “severely damaged, impacted infrastructure” behind long-term closures.

Amidst the first day of catastrophic flooding (Monday, June 13), Yellowstone National Park (YELL) conducted aerial research to assess damage. Their findings show “major damage to multiple sections of road between the North Entrance (Gardiner, Montana), Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley and Cooke City, Montana, near the Northeast Entrance.”

Northern portion of Yellowstone National Park likely to remain closed for a substantial length of time due to severely damaged, impacted infrastructure

As a result, Governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, declared a statewide disaster, citing “severe flooding that is destroying homes, washing away roads and bridges, and leaving Montanans without power and water services.”

The northern portion of Yellowstone is likely to remain in closure to the public “for a substantial length of time,” the park adds. YELL’s latest media release cites “severely damaged, impacted infrastructure” after the flood’s initial impact as the driving force behind closures.

What that “substantial length of time” looks like in days, weeks, or months, however, remains unclear. Regardless, “Visitors traveling to park in coming weeks must stay informed about current situation, road and weather conditions,” the park asks.

“The National Park Service will make every effort to repair these roads as soon as possible. However, it is probable that road sections in northern Yellowstone will not reopen this season due to the time required for repairs,” YELL continues. This matches with park superintendent Cam Sholly’s statements from Tuesday’s press briefing.

“Mammoth will likely not reopen this year,” Sholly said June 14. “We will likely not reopen the road between Gardiner and Mammoth for the rest of the summer. That will likely stay closed for the rest of the season.”

As Yellowstone National Park images show (viewed here), substantial sections of road in the North Loop are completely gone and will require substantial time and effort to reconstruct.

‘All entrances to Yellowstone National Park remain temporarily CLOSED’

As a result, “All entrances to Yellowstone National Park remain temporarily CLOSED while the park waits for flood waters to recede and can conduct evaluations on roads, bridges and wastewater treatment facilities to ensure visitor and employee safety,” the park continues in their media release.

For the time being, there will be no inbound visitor traffic at any of the five entrances into the park. This includes visitors with lodging and camping reservations, until conditions and infrastructure can improve.

Thankfully, the park’s Southern Loop saw far less damage. Once assessments of the southern area are complete, Yellowstone will reopen this area of the park once feasible. The closure of the Southern Loop, however, is at least in place “minimally through next weekend.”

Before visitors can return to the southern areas, park officials must first analyze how many visitors can safely inhabit this single area. A “temporary reservation system to prevent gridlock” is likely.

Yellowstone National Park’s backcountry also remains closed. Currently, crews are assisting backcountry campers that remain. Five groups are in the northern range, and will be evacuated if necessary as YELL assesses damage to backcountry campsites, trails and bridges.

‘There are no known injuries nor deaths to have occurred in the park as a result of the unprecedented flooding.’

If there is good news, it is that no deaths or injuries have come to light amidst such catastrophic events. The National Park Service will continue working with the park’s gateway communities to support residents and visitors.

Water levels receded a bit late Tuesday, but additional flood events are possible through this weekend. In the meantime, Yellowstone National Park asks:

  • Stay informed about up-to-date road conditions in Yellowstone:  
    • Visit Park Roads
    • To receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone, text “82190” to 888-777
    • Call (307) 344-2117 for a recorded message
    • Find news releases about the incident on the park’s website
  • Yellowstone will continue to communicate about this hazardous situation as more information is available

For more on the current situation, please see our live updates from yesterday’s press conference.