After a week of epic flooding, Yellowstone National Park’s south loop will reopen to the public on Wednesday – with limited capacity.
The park – which spans parts of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho – and many surrounding towns have been inundated with record rainfall and flooding since last weekend, prompting officials to close all entrances into Yellowstone.
“At 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 22, Yellowstone National Park will begin allowing visitors to access the south loop of the park,” the park said in a statement. “The south loop is accessed from the East (Cody), West (West Yellowstone), and South (Grand Teton/Jackson). Areas accessible include Madison, Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village, Canyon Village and Norris.”
To make sure the south loop doesn’t get overwhelmed by visitors, the park said it will use an alternating license plate system:
- Vehicles with license plates ending with an odd number can visit on odd days of the month
- Vehicles with license plates ending with an even number, including zero, can enter on even days of the month.
While the north loop is closed, “park staff have engaged over 1,000 business owners, park partners, commercial operators and residents in surrounding gateway communities to determine how to manage summer visitation,” Yellowstone officials said.
In a three-day period last week, Yellowstone National Park received about two to three times the typical rainfall for the whole month of June.
And precipitation this month has already been more than 400% of the average across northwestern Wyoming and southern Montana, according to the National Weather Service.
At one point, the Yellowstone River swelled to its highest level in more than 100 years, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.