YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — Days after major flooding forced a full closure of Yellowstone National Park, the park was assessing and repairing damage – and aiming to reopen its south loop next week.
Unprecedented flooding that started last weekend washed out park roads and bridges. It caused mudslides and rockslides, mostly in the park's northern areas. On Monday, Yellowstone closed all its entrances and evacuated more than 10,000 visitors from the park.
Video and photos showed extensive damage from the flooding, which then pushed into Montana, causing Gov. Greg Gianforte to secure a major disaster declaration from President Biden.
Yellowstone provided an update Friday on its recovery efforts, saying water levels have gone down over the past 24 hours – though they were still high – and a limited reopening of the park's south loop was "highly possible" next week.
The National Park Service (NPS) was analyzing the capacity of the south loop, which includes popular attractions like Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone Lake.
They were developing a plan to safely accommodate visitors in that portion of the park, accessible from the West, South and East entrances.
> Below: Helicopter video provided by the National Park Service shows damage to the North Entrance road between Gardiner, Montana, and Mammoth Hot Springs.
For now, the park was repairing damage to the south loop, assessing damage elsewhere, and assisting with short- and long-term recovery planning. Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said on Tuesday that the park would use a timed-entry or reservation system.
NPS was working to determine what other potential sections of the park could reopen this season. There was no estimate on when Yellowstone would fully reopen or on how much repairs and recovery would cost, the park said.
Visitors who have tripped planned should continue to check the Yellowstone website and social media for updates, the park said.
Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872. It covers 2.2 million acres, mostly in Wyoming, with small portions in Montana and Idaho.
The park employs hundreds of NPS workers and also more than 3,000 concessioners during the summer season.
The gateway towns of West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana; and Cody and Jackson, Wyoming, depend on tourism dollars and are fearful of the economic impact from the flooding.
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