After catastrophic flooding that destroyed bridges and roads and drove away thousands of tourists, Yellowstone National Park will partially reopen at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
The National Park Service announced this weekend that visitors will once again be allowed on Yellowstone’s South Loop under a temporary license plate system designed to manage crowds.
Motorcycle groups and those with even plates will be permitted on even days, and those with odd or vanity plates will be permitted access on odd days.
Commercial visits and visitors with proof of overnight reservations at hotels, campgrounds or in the backcountry will be permitted, regardless of their plate number.
Visitors had flocked to Yellowstone during its 150th anniversary celebration. The South Loop includes Old Faithful, the rainbow-colored Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and its majestic waterfall. The south, east and west entrances provide access to the south loop.
“It’s impossible to reopen a single loop in the summer without having some type of system in place to manage visitation,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a news release. “My thanks to our gateway partners and others for helping us find an acceptable temporary solution for the South Loop while we continue our efforts to reopen the North Loop.”
The northern loop is expected to remain closed all summer, if not longer, authorities added.
Officials say it could take years and cost more than $1 billion to repair flood damage to this ecologically sensitive landscape.
Yellowstone management had ordered the evacuation of more than 10,000 visitors on June 14 after parts of the park suffered between 2.5 inches (6 cm) and 4 inches (10 cm) of precipitation the previous days.
It triggered rising floodwaters that left a wave of wreckage, dragging homes into rivers and forcing air and boat rescues and sweeping an employee dormitory miles downstream.