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Widespread flooding forced park officials to close off Yellowstone National Park from the public earlier this month. However, new information released by the National Park Service sheds light on their reopening efforts.
On June 12, unexpected rainfall resulted in historical water levels severely damaging the park’s critical infrastructure, such as roads, power lines, and housing. Three days later, officials announced access to the park would be restricted for a “substantial length of time.”
Why is Yellowstone closed?
Intense flooding throughout Yellowstone forced destroyed key infrastructure necessary for the park’s daily operations. Flash floods damaged the park’s North Entrance, cutting off access to the Mammoth Hot Springs. Moreover, Yellowstone workers in the community of Gardiner, Montana were trapped in their homes by mudslides.
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Power outages were also unresolved in multiple locations in the park, while water systems at Canyon Village were impacted by the floods. Some roads used by visors to access the park are “completely gone,” according to the National Park Service. Approximately 200 residential homes were also flooded in nearby towns.
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More than 10,000 visitors were forced to evacuate, but no injuries or deaths have been reported at this time. This is the first time all entrances into Yellowstone have been closed in 34 years, ever since a series of massive wildfires in 1988. The summer is the busiest time of year for tourism to the park, receiving almost 1 million visors per month.
Where is Yellowstone National Park located?
Yellowstone National Park spans over 3,400 square miles in the Northwestern United States in three different states Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. However, most of the park sits in the northwestern corner of Wyoming, east of Idaho, and south of Montana. Typically, Yellowstone is accessible to visitors from the east, south, northeast, and west. The park has a diverse array of biomes, wildlife, and natural features but is particularly known for its subalpine forests and Old Faithful geyser.
When will Yellowstone reopen?
Last week park officials announced Yellowstone would partially reopen some entrances to the public on Wednesday, June 22. The park plans to implement an alternating license plate system to deal with overcrowding. Vehicles whose final license plate number is odd will be allowed to enter on odd days of the month, while vehicles with an even number will be permitted on even days, according to the park officials.
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“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our teams and partners, we are prepared to reopen the south loop of Yellowstone. It is impossible to reopen only one loop in the summer without implementing some type of system to manage visitation,” said Cam Sholly, the park’s superintendent, in a statement.