Yellowstone National Park to Partially Reopen with New Entry System After Flooding

Lines extended outside the park as visitors waited to enter the park's southern loop.

Jared Christopher/Shutterstock
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After flood waters last week forced park officials to close all five entrances to Yellowstone National Park and evacuate residents and visitors, a small portion of the park is reopening. The southern loop will be accessible to guests from the East, West, and South entrances, according to a statement released by the National Park Service.

Because so much of the park will be closed, an interim entry system will be deployed to make sure both the park and visitors are safe. Visitors will be allowed inside based on the license plate on the vehicle. License plates that have odd numbers of last digits can enter on odd days of the month, while license plates with even numbers as the last digit can enter on even days of the month. Plates with letters and numbers will enter based on whether the last number in the plate is odd or even. Plates that are just made up of letters will be allowed to enter on odd days.

According to NPS, people who are an exception to the license plate system include people entering the parks on foot, on bike, and people who have overnight reservations in the park. The diagram below explains the system:

Courtesy of the National Park Service

"Less than six days ago, Yellowstone National Park was hit with devastating floods," said Superintendent Cam Sholly in a statement shared on June 18. "Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our teams and partners, we are prepared to reopen the south loop of Yellowstone. It is impossible to reopen only one loop in the summer without implementing some type of system to manage visitation."

With the southern loop reopening, visitors will be able to access Old Faithful, West Thumb, Grant Village, Bridge Bay, Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Norris areas of the park. Backcountry will only be open during the day. Closed areas in the southern loop include the Canyon Village Lodges and Cabins, the Canyon, Madison, Norris and Lewis Lake campgrounds, and the Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and Trailside Museum. The map shows current openings and closures:

Courtesy of the National Park Service

"We will also reopen new sections of the park as repairs continue to be made. It is critical for visitors to stay informed about this interim system as we evaluate its effectiveness," Sholly’s statement continued. "They should plan ahead and be patient with us as we are still managing significant recovery while moving into this operational phase."

You can find all park hours and which areas are open at the National Park Service website.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.