BILLINGS, Mont. (UKTN) — Yellowstone National Park will partially reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday after catastrophic flooding destroyed bridges and roads and drove out thousands of tourists.
The Parks Service announced on Saturday that visitors will again be allowed on the park’s South Loop under a temporary license plate system designed to manage crowds: those with even plates and groups of motorcycles will be allowed on even days, and those with odd or vanity plates on odd days.
Commercial visits and visitors with proof of overnight reservations at hotels, campgrounds or in the backcountry will be permitted regardless of their plate number.
Visitors had flocked to Yellowstone during its 150th anniversary celebration. The South Loop provides access to Old Faithful, the rainbow-colored Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and its majestic waterfall. It is accessible by the south, east and west entrances to the park.
“It’s impossible to reopen a single loop in the summer without having some type of system in place to manage visitation,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a news release. “My thanks to our gateway partners and others for helping us find an acceptable temporary solution for the South Loop while we continue our efforts to reopen the North Loop.”
The North Loop is expected to remain closed all summer, if not longer. Officials say it could take years and cost more than $1 billion to repair damage to the environmentally sensitive landscape.