Four months after raging floodwaters swept through Yellowstone National Park, forcing it to close for about a week and chasing more than 10,000 visitors to safety, the rebuilding will reach a milestone on Saturday as the park reopens its Northeast Entrance Road to vehicular traffic, the National Park Service said.
Five sections of the road were significantly damaged in June, when four days of record rainfall, combined with melting snow and warming temperatures, brought flooding and mudslides that tore out bridges and changed the course of rivers. Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana declared a statewide disaster.
The northern reaches of Yellowstone, which is the oldest national park in the United States, were hit the hardest.
Yellowstone’s superintendent, Cam Sholly, said he was thrilled to be reopening the northeast entrance, an important gateway to the park. The completion of the work means that 99 percent of the park’s roads are now open.
“I commend the collective efforts of the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration and Oftedal Construction, Inc. to complete this monumental task in such a short amount of time,” Superintendent Sholly said in a news release.
The Park Service said there was one section of road near the popular trailhead to Trout Lake that still needed to be paved. Construction will be completed over the next 10 days, but traffic will be allowed in the area, though the Park Service warned of possible delays.
Four miles of paving and 5,000 feet of guardrail are also still being installed on Old Gardiner Road, which runs between Gardiner, Mont., and Mammoth Hot Springs. Wyo. The road is expected to open no later than Nov. 1, the Park Service said. A small section in Lamar Canyon will remain a paved, single-lane road through the winter season, and a temporary stoplight will be installed.
Millions of visitors are drawn each year to the wilderness and active geysers in Yellowstone, which sprawls across more than two million acres in the northwest corner of Wyoming, and into Montana and Idaho.
In 2021, more than 4.8 million people visited Yellowstone. The park, which is particularly popular in the summer, was forced to close its northeast entrance just as the tourism season was ramping up.