Half Of Yellowstone National Park Likely Closed For The Summer
The northern half of Yellowstone National Park will likely be closed for the season as what officials are calling a 1,000-year flooding event continues to roil the park and the surrounding areas.
Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly made the announcement to reporters during a news conference on Tuesday evening.
Adding to the ongoing woes in the world's first national park, there could be more flooding in the coming days.
"We still have high water as of today. There are some conflicting predictions about this weekend about whether or not we may have another high-water event coming. We still have somewhere around 12 inches of snowpack left," Sholly said. "And if we get warming temperatures and the right mixture of precipitation like we got Sunday, we could have another flooding event coming to Yellowstone in the coming four or five days."
Sholly said roads in the northern half of the park, including Mammoth Hot Springs, the Lamar Valley and Canyon Village are severely damaged and will take a significant amount of time to repair.
Park County Commissioner Bill Berg said the impact for the Gardiner, Montana area — the northern gateway to the park — could be devastating.
"The only way to get to Cooke City and Silvergate for our staff is through Yellowstone Park," Berg said. "So Cam's challenges are significant as our ours.
"We can't provide law enforcement services out there right now, public health services."
Berg said Park County's first alert came Sunday night as bridges in the area began washing out.
"The landscape has figuratively and literally changed significantly in the last 36 hours," Berg added.
Along with infrastructure impacts, Berg said park employees living in the Gardiner area are now leaving. The area has also been flooded with tourists who planned on visiting the area and canceling their reservations, which he called understandable.
Said Sholly, asked to put the flooding into historical context:
"I've heard this is a 1,000-year event, whatever that means these days. They seem to be happening more and more frequently," Sholly said. "I don't know exactly what context to put it in historically except from what I understand, one of the highest (cubic feet per second) ratings for the Yellowstone River recorded in the 90s was recorded at 31,000 CFS and Sunday night we were at 51,000 CFS, so that gives you a bit of context from the last major high-water event we were at in the park."