‘Extremely hazardous:’ Yellowstone immediately closed to incoming visitors after record flooding, rockslides
With the full extent of damage still unknown, Sholly said it’s unclear when the park may reopen.
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — Yellowstone National Park will be closed to all incoming visitors through at least Wednesday after unprecedented flooding caused “extremely hazardous” conditions throughout the roughly 3,500-square mile park.
In a Facebook post, Yellowstone superintendent Cam Sholly said park personnel are working to evacuate areas of the park after multiple roads and bridges failed, impacting mobility within the park.
“Due to record flooding events in the park and more precipitation in the forecast, we have made the decision to close Yellowstone to all inbound visitation," Sholly said. "Our first priority has been to evacuate the northern section of the park where we have multiple road and bridge failures, mudslides and other issues.”
6/13/22 at 2:15 p.m. UPDATE: Effective immediately, there will be no inbound visitor traffic at any of the five entrances into Yellowstone National Park on Tuesday, June 14, and Wednesday, June 15, at a minimum. Learn more: https://t.co/mymnqGMNN9 https://t.co/Kz2sEbOS7a— Yellowstone National Park (@YellowstoneNPS) June 13, 2022
Widespread rainfall in the park from late Sunday into Monday dumped upward of four inches in some localized areas of the park, especially along the Wyoming-Montana border.
Shortly before 9:30 a.m. local time Monday, park officials announced their first road closures, citing substantial flooding, rockslides and mudslides in the northern areas of the park. As crews continued to survey the park, they found power out in multiple areas of the park and significant damage to the park’s infrastructure.
Serving as the park’s north entrance, officials said the community of Gardiner, Montana, has been completely isolated, as the Yellowstone River, which runs along the community’s west edge, has reached record levels.
The river reached flood stages so high, that an entire structure was swept into the floodwater near Gardiner.
After spending much of the day working to evacuate visitors in the park’s north end, predictions of continued rainfall and exacerbated flooding led authorities to announce they’ll evacuate visitors in the park’s southern loop by the end of the day.
With the full extent of damage unknown, Sholly said it’s unclear when the park may reopen.
“We will not know timing of the park’s reopening until flood waters subside and we're able to assess the damage throughout the park,” Sholly said. “It is likely that the northern loop will be closed for a substantial amount of time.”
On Monday evening, park officials took to the skies, using a helicopter to gather a more encapsulating idea of the damage in Gardner Canyon.
In one video posted on Yellowstone's Facebook, footage from a helicopter showed a swollen river had partially or entirely washed out one road in at least six spots, while also dealing some structural damage to a bridge.
In the meantime, Sholly said park officials are working with multiple government entities, including both the state of Montana and Wyoming, to help park visitors and area residents evacuate to safety.
“I appreciate the efforts of the Yellowstone team and partners to safely evacuate areas of the park and of our gateway community partners who are helping us through this major event,” Sholly said. “We appreciate the support offered by the Department of the Interior, National Park Service and the Montana and Wyoming governors."