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Yellowstone reopens south loop with limited capacity after unprecedented floods

Visitors will be able to travel through the south loop — accessed through the East, West and South entrances of the park — based on an alternating license plate system, with some exceptions, the National Park Service said.

That system means vehicles with license plates ending in an odd number will be able to enter the park on odd days of the month, while even numbers (including zero) will be granted access on even days of the month, according to the service. The system is in place to ensure the south loop is not overwhelmed by visitors, the park service said.

Cars, campers and trucks lined up before sunrise Wednesday outside the south entrance of Yellowstone National Park waiting to gain entry for the first time in more than a week.

George Frey/Getty Images

The park’s north loop, accessed by the North and Northeast entrances, remains closed, the service added.

“As part of reopening planning, 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,” the park service said in an earlier news release.
The park — which covers parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming — and surrounding towns were inundated by unprecedented rainfall and flooding that caused mudslides, rockslides and other dangerous conditions, officials said. Roads had washed away in several places, while others had been impacted by mudslides and downed trees following the floods, officials reported.
The heavy rain coupled with rapid snowmelt that led to flooding along the Yellowstone River was a 1 in 500-year event, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Tourism industry workers around Yellowstone National Park are feeling the financial impact after historic flooding closed the iconic park destination. CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield spoke with Shawn Darr, who runs Little Trail Creek Cabins in nearby Gardiner, Montana, about whether she and her family’s business can survive, financially.
“Cars are reentering (Yellowstone National Park) this morning thanks to the hard work and dedicated efforts of many partners,” Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said on Twitter Wednesday. “This is welcome news for our nearby communities and Wyoming tourism.”
The park’s north loop is also expected to reopen within the next two weeks, after clean-up, repair and inspection efforts are completed, the park said in a news release earlier this week.

CNN’s Claudia Dominguez contributed to this report.

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