Yellowstone National Park partially reopens after rare floods | Weather News

The southern ring of the open park, has areas under construction and includes areas affected by floods.

Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the United States, has reopened in part, after record-breaking floods and rockslides following heavy rain closed the park for the first time in 34 years.

Hundreds of cars, trucks and recreational vehicles were kept in long lines at the iconic park entrances Wednesday morning, as park managers raised gates at three of Yellowstone’s five entrances.

The park, which spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, has been closed to visitors, including those with stay and camping reservations, since June 13, when 10,000 visitors were ordered outside after rivers rose through northern Wyoming and southern Montana on their banks after an avalanche. From the rain that accelerated the melting of snow in the spring. The cost and scope of the damage is still being evaluated.

Record floods have reshaped the park’s rivers and canyons, wiped out many roads and left some areas popular for wildlife viewing inaccessible, possibly for months to come.

The reopening of the southern ring comes as officials in Yellowstone are still calculating the extent of the damage. Depending on other national park disasters, it could take years and incur a huge cost to rebuild. It’s an ecologically sensitive landscape with a massive underground plumbing system that feeds garden geysers, hot springs, and other thermal features. The construction season begins only from spring thaws until the first snowfall, a narrow window that means some roads can receive only temporary repairs this year.

Maurice Demirovic, 43, of Miami and his 70-year-old mother arrived at the eastern entrance at about 5:30 a.m. (11:30 GMT) on Wednesday and were second in a series of dozens of cars. He and his mother, who is from Bosnia, had been on a cross-country trip to visit the national parks and Yellowstone was at the top of their list.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime journey for me and my mum, so I had to make sure she sees this,” he said.

The shutdown came as Yellowstone prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary, and with local communities relying heavily on tourism to recover after COVID-19 travel restrictions over the past two summers.

Some of the main attractions of America’s first national park will be viewable again, including Old Faithful – the legendary geyser that shoots towering bursts of steamy water like the clock runs more than a dozen times a day.

But the bears, wolves and bison that roam the wild Lamar Valley and the thermal landmarks around Mammoth Hot Springs will remain elusive. The wildlife-rich northern half of the park will be closed until at least early July, and major roads into the park will remain cut off near Montana tourist towns such as Gardiner, Red Lodge, and Cooke City.

It is not known how many visitors will appear in the immediate aftermath of the floods, but lines indicate that many tourists have stuck to their plans despite uncertainty last week about when the park will reopen. License plates at the east entrance near Wapiti, Wyoming, indicated they were from Indiana, Arkansas, Ohio, Colorado, British Columbia in Canada and elsewhere. The first visitors to pass through did not have to contend with other traffic, but they did have to keep an eye on badgers – large ground squirrels – on the road.

To keep visitor numbers low while repairs continue, park managers will use a system that only allows cars with the last even-numbered numbers on their license plates to enter on even-numbered days, while vehicles with the last odd-numbered numbers can come on odd days.

Groups of visitors traveling together in different cars are exempt from the license plate system, as are people who have reservations at campgrounds and hotels in the park.

If traffic along 644 kilometers (400 miles) of roads becomes unmanageable, officials said they will impose a reservation system to enter the park.

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