Yellowstone Flooding - Do I need to move to a Plan B for early August?
June 14, 2022 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I have a trip coming up to Yellowstone National Park in early August. Given the ongoing terrible flood event and road washouts, and park evacuation etc, checking if anyone has informed opinions on likelihood of North entrance or large parts of the park being closed / impacted for an extended period.

We are supposed to be going through Gardiner to Mammoth Hot Springs for a few nights early August. Given how hard the 89 corridor looks to have been hit down to Gardiner and the North entrance, seems like the entrance could be impacted for a while...but really hard to tell (I've been to that area before and know its a narrow corridor with limited infrastructure, but don't know it that well or not close enough to know how damaged it is). Obviously its an ongoing situation and there is more rain forecast later this week so it could get worse this am monitoring.

Plan B would likely be adding more nights at a KOA we are staying at elsewhere in Montana....which I'm tempted to do preemptively.

Finally, hope are MeFi's up that way are safe - not wishing to trivialize the flooding and impact to those communities by asking about holiday looks to be terrible for a number of small communities. I am travelling with autistic kids where plan changes for exciting trips they have been looking forward to for months need to be communicated well in advance to avoid massive meltdowns....hence my question.
posted by inflatablekiwi to Travel & Transportation around Wyoming (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have no insider knowledge, but I would not expect the north entrance or the road between Gardiner and Mammoth to open before the end of summer. There's a statement from the Park Superintendent saying, in part, "It is likely that the northern loop will be closed for a substantial amount of time." From previous trip planning I get the impression that when a segment of the loop road is closed it's going to be closed for the duration of the season. When we visited the park a few years ago the road from Norris to Mammoth was closed for maintenance that whole summer. Mammoth itself was open, but we had to get there and back by way of Roosevelt (the long way). I guess the question is whether they'll be able to open the Mammoth area to visitors via the road from Norris or just close it for the season, and that probably depends on how badly their staffing and supply lines are affected by the entrance and road closure.

Maybe send ITravelMontana a MeMail if they don't see and respond to this thread. The local travel agent network is probably already working hard to coordinate alternate plans and may have a line on workarounds.
posted by fedward at 11:15 AM on June 14, 2022 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks - yeah I've been doom scrolling Twitter and the video seems to indicate massive washouts of roading throughout the northern entrance region, and a couple of cabin owners that way have been saying months till access..... Last time I was in Mammoth we got hit by a massive hailstorm...and just two weeks back ended up camping in a snow storm in Dubois.... so my luck up that way has been not great :-). Hoping I'll still be able to come in the West Entrance and make it to Mammoth...but good point that maybe they will close the Hotel there if staff/supplies are limited at the North End.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 11:26 AM on June 14, 2022

Best answer: I'd change your plans to avoid Yellowstone. These are going to be major roadwork and infrastructure projects because they involve not just fixing up roads but assessing the structural stability of riverbanks and bridges before they even begin to rebuild anything. I'm sure they'll do what they can to reopen the southern parts of the park, but there aren't a ton of roads around there for bypassing those highways, and it could be a real mess to be anywhere in the vicinity. And while the park service has a lot of resources, I suspect they might be short staffed like everyone these days.

I'm going to guess that this might mean more crowds in the Tetons (which are stunning) and maybe also Glacier as people shift their plans to avoid Yellowstone. I know national parks were really crowded in the early pandemic but don't know if that's changed with travel generally be more open these days, but Yellowstone is often really crowded peak season anyway. I suspect this summer is not the time to visit Yellowstone.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:37 AM on June 14, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, it looks like it is going to be bad. And probably for a while.

Sigh... My favorite place on earth.

There are going to now have to be inspections, and bids for the jobs, and etc. So the North entrance is going to be a problem. Would suggest shifting to Big Sky for a night, (an hour or so from the park), and well, then, you are on your own. West Yellowstone is very under-hoteled, and way overpriced. Other than the driving time spent, You would probably save money commuting from Big Sky to the park. Hope you can make it work.

Yellowstone is fucking awesome...
posted by Windopaene at 11:58 AM on June 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all.....managed to make a booking in West Yellowstone KOA for the nights I should be in Mammoth. So we should be good - I'll wait a few days and see what the prognosis for Mammoth Hot Springs is and cancel either as needed.

Agree Yellowstone is awesome and we are coming from Glacier NP and heading to Grand Tetons NP afterwards (which is also awesome - love me some Tetons!). Not looking forward to 3am wakeups to try and avoid crazy crowds jamming into fewer open YNP entrances though.....
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:14 PM on June 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not an engineer, but this road does not look like it's opening this summer to me.
posted by caek at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2022 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Yeah.....I think you are right :-)

Was just wondering about anyone back country hiking in YNP at the moment....imagine coming back to the road and finding *no one* is in the park at the busiest time of the year. That would be a tad ahhhh was there another pandemic or something?
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:32 PM on June 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: OMG. Not for two years. Wow, that road is gone
posted by Windopaene at 1:22 PM on June 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Not to pile on but there's now river where most of that road used to be... and mountain in the only other place road COULD go, right next to it. Nobody's driving on that this year and probably not next year either.
posted by invincible summer at 1:45 PM on June 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

While I agree that that road won't be back in operation before the end of the brief Yellowstone summer, I wouldn't be surprised if it's in operation before the park closes in the fall. Repair operations for washouts can happen in the span of 3-4 months if there's sufficient labor & money to throw at it and it's an artery that a lot of people use. (See the Mohawk Trail in 2011 or the California Coastal Highway last year. )
posted by Johnny Assay at 3:48 PM on June 14, 2022

Response by poster: This is a useful summary of the press conference tonight from Park Officials. Sounds bad - thankful no casualties. I do feel for the people of Gardiner - its bad and its going to very tough there for years by the sounds of it. Lots of big decisions to be made about how to rebuild infrastructure as spending the money to rebuild in same spot (especially roads) doesn't make any sense

All indications are the park northern loop will be closed rest of the season minimum. And the Park may implement timed entry or other restrictions to prevent southern loop being overwhelmed.

A once in a 1000 year event apparently. (Realizing climate change is changing the frequency)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 6:26 PM on June 14, 2022

Response by poster: For completeness of answer in case anyone else has the same issue - Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel just emailed and made it clear Mammoth Hot Springs and the Northern loop are going to be closed

"As you may have seen in recent news reports, record flooding events in and around Yellowstone National Park have caused significant damage to roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. We have been advised by the National Park Service that the Upper Loop Road in Yellowstone is unlikely to re-open this summer season. As a result, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins will remain closed through the end of its season on November 27, 2022 and Roosevelt Lodge Cabins will remain closed through the end of its season on September 4, 2022. "
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:07 AM on June 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Everything to know about the Yellowstone closure
posted by caek at 1:04 PM on June 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Following links from that article I found that the park itself now has a dedicated Flood Recovery page on its web site. Looks like everything north of Norris Geyser Basin and Canyon Village is going to be closed for a while.
posted by fedward at 1:29 PM on June 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: June 22nd is when the southern loop now opens. The new entry system has been announced as well - odd numbered licensed number plates allowed one day, even numbered the next (more details here - including defining what are odd and even license plates if you have personalized plates etc)……
posted by inflatablekiwi at 6:44 AM on June 19, 2022

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