Park’s north loop to open over July 4 weekend

Weeks after record flooding washed out roads and swept away structures in Yellowstone National Park, the north loop of the park will reopen this weekend, officials said.

Huge portions of Yellowstone have been closed since heavy floods, caused by record rainfall combined with rapidly melting snowpack, forced evacuations for 10,000 visitors and led to dangerous mud and rockslides in mid-June.

Officials reopened the south loop of the park on June 22 and instituted a license plate system — cars with even-numbered last digits on their license plates could enter on even days, while vehicles with odd-numbered last numbers could come on odd days.

Saturday’s north loop reopening will make 93% of Yellowstone roadways accessible and suspend the license plate system.

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“We’re pleased to reopen the north loop of Yellowstone to the visiting public less than three weeks after this major flood event,” Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. “We have attempted to balance major recovery efforts while reopening as much of the park as possible.”

The north loop includes Norris Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Junction.

Visitors can enter the park via West Yellowstone, Montana; Cody, Wyoming and its south entrance near Jackson, Wyoming.

The north and northeast entrance gates at Gardiner and Cooke City remain closed and visitors cannot access the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley due to flooding washed out roads in the area. 

It could be years before roads are fully repaired, park officials have said.

The park, spanning Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, is an environmentally sensitive landscape with a huge underground plumbing system that feeds into the park’s geysers, hot springs and other thermal features. Construction season only runs from the spring thaw until the first snowfall, a narrow window that means some roads could receive only temporary fixes this year.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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