Update From July 3, 2022: The Park has now opened the Northern Loop as well. The speed of their assessment and damage repair has been excellent. The North Entrance (from Gardiner) and Northeast Entrance (from Cooke City) are still closed.
Yellowstone National Park has announced that the South Loop will reopen this Wednesday, June 22, 2022, about a week after devastating floods and rock slides swept through the area taking out houses, roadways, and bridges. Thankfully, no deaths or injuries from the flooding have been reported.
Traffic will be allowed in through the West, South, and East entrances with access to Madison, Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village, Canyon Village, and Norris. The North Loop will remain closed until a number of roads can be repaired. The Park recently announced (6/21/22) that they expect to be able to open some North Loop roads in as little as two weeks.
This year is Yellowstone’s 150th anniversary and a large number of visitors were expected to visit the park this summer. With the North Loop being closed, the Park will be implementing an interim plan called the Alternating License Plate System for vehicle entry into the park. Note: Current commercial use operators such as Travel Montana are exempt from this system and are able to enter the park with tour groups.
Alternating License Plate System
- Public vehicle entry will be allowed based on whether the last numerical digit on a license plate is odd or even.
- Entrance will be granted based on odd/even days on the calendar.
- Odd-numbered last digits on license plates can enter on odd days of the month.
- Even-numbered last digits (including zero) on license plates can enter on even days of the month.
- Personalized plates (all letters, for example, YLWSTNE) will fall into the “odd” category for entrance purposes.
- Plates with a mix of letters and numbers but that end with a letter (for example YELL4EVR) will still use the last numerical digit on the plate to determine entrance days.
- Entrance station staff will turn away vehicles attempting to enter the park when the odd/even numerical digits do not correspond to the odd/even calendar date for entrance.
- Current commercial use operators with active commercial use permits will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number. This includes commercial tours and stock groups (this includes Travel Montana).
- Visitors with proof of overnight reservations in the park will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number. This includes hotels, campgrounds, and backcountry reservations.
- Commercial motorcoaches will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number.
- Motorcycle groups may enter on even dates only.
- Essential services like mail and deliver, employees and contractors may enter regardless of license plate number.
Yellowstone staff are working to determine what other potential sections of the park may be reopened prior to the regular road closings on November 1 for the winter season. Decisions will depend on the extent of damage and the ability of park managers to safely open additional sections as the year progresses.
Planning Your Yellowstone Vacation
Though there may be some park features that will be inaccessible this year such as Mammoth Hot Springs, there are plenty of awe-inspiring highlights that you can still experience. But rather than taking on the stress of planning out a Yellowstone vacation on your own, why not book a guided tour where all the details are taken care of for you? Here are a few advantages to booking a private tour with Travel Montana:
- You avoid having to worry about planning when you can come to Yellowstone based to your license plate number, especially if you are planning on renting a car and won’t know what that number will be until you get there.
- Our guides are experts. They know the best restaurants, the best times and locations to look for animals in Yellowstone, and the best alternative route to avoid a traffic jam. They can provide the history of a region, talk about how the ice age-era Missoula floods shaped the landscape, and explain the intricacies of Yellowstone’s geothermal features to a six year old.
- You can relax. We take care of every detail so all you have to do is enjoy time with your loved ones on an unforgettable vacation.
- You stay safe and explore more. Montana is not a wild west landscape where you need fear for your safety. But having said that, when you step out of the car and off the pavement, there are risks. Our guides will help you ensure you don’t get lost on that wilderness hike, that you are “bear aware” in the bear territories of the park, and that your kids don’t accidentally step into a bubbling mud pot in Yellowstone.
So many people have been impacted by the floods in Yellowstone as well as the surrounding areas. Many of these people rely on tourism as a main source of income. We’d encourage those who are considering traveling to Yellowstone this year to still do so to support those affected – even if you don’t come with us!