Yellowstone National Park to partially reopen Wednesday after destructive flooding




  • In Business
  • 2022-06-19 17:03:02Z
  • By USA TODAY

Yellowstone officials announced plans to reopen parts of the historic national park to the public on Wednesday after last week's devastating floods forced over 10,000 people to evacuate.

Visitors will be allowed to enter the park's south loop area from 8 a.m. while flood damage is likely to keep the north loop closed for a "substantial length of time," National Park Service officials said.

Unprecedented rainfall that started on June 12 triggered rockslides, mudslides and heavy flooding throughout the world's first national park, inflicting damage that could take years and more than $1 billion to repair.

The roaring Yellowstone River is seen from the air sweeping over trees and near homes June 14, 2022, in Billings, Mont.
The roaring Yellowstone River is seen from the air sweeping over trees and near homes June 14, 2022, in Billings, Mont.  

National Park Service officials said they're implementing an interim visitor access plan, called the Alternating License Plate System, to welcome people back to parts of the south loop.

Visitors will be able to access Old Faithful, West Thumb and other areas, but some areas of the south loop, such as Norris and Lewis Lake campgrounds, still remain off-limits.

Starting Wednesday, vehicles can enter the park based on whether the last number on their license plate is odd or even, according to a news release.

MASSIVE FLOODING: Yellowstone National Park flooding 'still raging'; more than 10,000 visitors evacuated: What we know

"Odd-numbered last digits on license plates can enter on odd days of the month; even-numbered last digits, including zero, on license plates can enter on even days of the month," the release read.

Park officials announced some exceptions to the system, including entrance regardless of license plate number for commercial tours and visitors with proof of overnight reservations at hotels, campgrounds or in the backcountry, according to the National Park Service.

The license plate system is meant to balance the high demand for people wanting to access the park while ensuring the south look doesn't get overwhelmed with visitors.

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement that it's "impossible" to reopen only one loop of the park in summer without enforcing some type of visitation system.

DAMAGE ASSESSMENT: Yellowstone still closed as flooding recedes and thousands evacuate. What damage has been done?

"As we go through the reopening process, we will monitor the system's effectiveness and work together to make adjustments that may be necessary," Sholly said. "We will also reopen new sections of the park as repairs continue to be made."

Prior to Wednesday's partial reopening, all of Yellowstone's roads, entrances and backcountry will remain closed because of hazardous conditions.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Yellowstone reopening plan will start as partial reopen after flooding

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