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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Yellowstone will reopen most of northern loop this weekend

Visitors wait in line at Yellowstone National Park’s West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Mont., on June 23.  (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
By Natalie B. Compton Washington Post

Yellowstone National Park officials announced Thursday that its northern loop will reopen on Saturday, less than three weeks after the park suffered severe flood damage.

With 93% of the park’s road system open, the temporary alternating license plate system to limit visitors will be lifted that day, officials said. The park’s southern portion reopened last week.

“We have attempted to balance major recovery efforts while reopening as much of the park as possible,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a news release.

After record rainfall and historic flooding, Yellowstone closed all five entrances on June 13 and has been working on repairs since. A torrential downpour caused surging river water, rock slides and mudslides, devastating surrounding communities and destroying roads and bridges.

The 2.2 million-acre park first reopened June 22 through its southern loop, where many of Yellowstone’s most famous sites are located, including Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake and the West Thumb Geyser Basin.

With the reopening phase, visitors can access the southern and northern loops through the East Entrance (Cody, Wyoming), the West Entrance (West Yellowstone, Montana) and the South Entrance (Grand Teton/Jackson, Wyoming). They can also access the roads from Norris Junction to Mammoth Hot Springs, from Mammoth Hot Springs to Tower-Roosevelt and from Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Junction (Dunraven Pass). A 23-mile stretch of the scenic Beartooth Highway has also reopened.

The North Entrance Road (Gardiner, Montana, to Mammoth Hot Springs) and Northeast Entrance Road (Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana, to Tower-Roosevelt) are still closed to cars, although visitors can use the entrance on foot. Bicycle use through the entrances is under evaluation.

While the alternating license plate system will be suspended, officials said it could be reinstated if needed to control crowds and protect park infrastructure. Those driving to the park can find gas available in Tower-Roosevelt Junction and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Park officials warn high water remains in many of Yellowstone’s waterways. Additionally, some backcountry closures in the northern loop will remain in place because of dangerous conditions or damaged infrastructure. Updates can be found via the park’s Backcountry Situation Report webpage.

In upcoming weeks, additional services may return. For more information on what’s available, visit the park’s Plan Your Visit webpage.