Portions of Yellowstone National Park are set to reopen on Wednesday, June 22, a week after destructive flooding washed through the park. Visitors’ license plates will determine if and when they can enter.
License Plate System
The new entry system is called the Alternate License Plate System (ALPS) and it’s based on your license plate number. If it ends in an odd number, then you can visit the park on odd-numbered days; if it ends in an even number, then you are permitted to enter on even-numbered days. Visitors with advance reservations are allowed into the park regardless of their license plate number.
Park officials say the metered entrance system is needed to limit the number of visitors on any day. Overloading the park right now can cause more damage. Only the eastern, southern, and western entrances will reopen, with the northern entrance to remain closed indefinitely. The southern loop encompasses the popular tourist attraction Old Faithful as well as many popular hiking trails.
We have made tremendous progress in a very short amount of time but have a long way to go,” said the park’s superintendent, Cam Sholly. Park officials partnered with community members, partners, and commercial operators to create an acceptable plan for the park’s reopening. “We appreciate the tremendous support from National Park Service and Department of the Interior leadership, in addition to our surrounding Congressional delegations, governors, counties, communities, and other partners.”
Most of the damage remains in the park’s northern section, with roads and bridges severely damaged. Rushing water washed out parts of the main road along the Gardiner River, leaving communities completely shut off. Other roads are impassable due to mudslides or downed trees.
The flooding began on June 11, when intense rainfall mixed with higher-than-normal snowmelt to create flooding. The raging waters washed away homes, destroyed roads and bridges, and forced thousands of people to evacuate the park. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Yellowstone River rose to its highest level in more than 100 years during the 3-day flooding event. Currently, there are no reports of injuries or deaths as a result of the flood.
“We realize there is much challenging work ahead, and we will do everything we can to support the park, partners, concessioners, and gateway communities on the road to recovery,” said Chuck Sams, National Park Service Director.
Yellowstone officials will be monitoring the park as visitors re-enter it and may change the rules if needed. Officials urge visitors to monitor its site and social media for updates.