Billings, Mont. – Yellowstone National Park will partially reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday, after devastating floods destroyed bridges and roads and drove thousands of tourists out.
The Park Service announced Saturday that a temporary license plate system designed to manage crowds would allow visitors to once again visit the park’s Southern Loop: people with even-numbered plates and motorcycle groups. will be allowed on even-numbered days, and those with an odd-numbered or vanity plate on odd-numbered days.
Commercial tours and visitors with proof of overnight reservations at hotels, campgrounds or backcountry will be permitted, whatever their plate number.
Visitors flocked to the celebration of Yellowstone’s 150th anniversary. The Southern Loop provides access to Old Faithful, the rainbow-colored Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its majestic waterfalls. It can be accessed from the south, east and west entrances of the park.
“It’s impossible to just reopen a loop this summer without some sort of arrangement in place,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Shawley said in a news release. Thanks to Gateway Partners and others as we continue our efforts to reopen the North Loop.”
The North Loop is expected to remain closed during the summer, if not longer. Officials say repairing damage to the environmentally sensitive landscape could take years and cost more than $1 billion.