Yellowstone National Park – Access to Yellowstone National Park has been closed indefinitely as heavy flooding has washed away roads and isolated communities in southern Montana.
National Park Service closed by Rangers. All park entrances on Monday Due to “severe flooding, rock fall (and) extremely dangerous conditions.”
Authorities say the damage to the northern part of the park is significant and that large parts of Yellowstone could be closed until after the busy tourist season.
More than 10,000 people were thought to be in the park at the time of the historic flood, but fortunately, no casualties were reported.
Due to the combination of several inches of rain and melting snow, the rivers flowing near the park have reached historic flooding levels, including the Yellowstone, Boulder and Steelwater rivers.
NPS officials warned that infrastructure, including hundreds of bridges, would have to be surveyed before any part of the park could reopen.
Yellowstone staff will likely set up a reservation system when the southern part of the park reopens to avoid overcrowding.
Local officials acknowledge that the historic weather event could be a challenge for local businesses dedicated to tourism.
During a busy summer day, officials say the park can accommodate more than 20,000 visitors.
The NWS in Billings said Tuesday it expects to cancel several flood warnings throughout the day. However, Billings continues to rise in the Yellowstone River and Edgar’s Clark Fork.
According to NWS, the rivers of the foothills will continue to recede in southern Montana on Tuesday, with some falling below the flood stage, while rivers near the Billings will continue to rise.
At 1:00 a.m. Tuesday, the Yellowstone River in Billings was above flood level and was forecast to reach 14.7 feet, well below the 1997 record of 15 feet. On Monday, the Yellowstone River at Coron Springs measured 13.85 feet, higher than the previous record of 11.5 feet set in 1918.
Aerial video filmed by Yellowstone’s helicopter manager showed water splashing along the park’s North Entrance Road and several roads passing through Gardner Canyon between Gardner, Montana and Mammoth Hot Springs. ۔
People living in the vicinity of the park have been directly affected as the floods have separated communities and homes.
According to the Park County Sheriff’s Office, Cook City and Silver Gate were isolated and surrounded by water after the road between Gardner and Mammoth was washed away.
Drinking water in flood-affected areas can be compromised. Authorities have warned that water from wells submerged in floodwaters is not safe for drinking. Gardner was ordered not to drink after the floodwaters receded.
The Montana Yellowstone tour guide is at Angela Tempo Gardner, where flooding has cut off access inside or outside.
“That night, it started to grow very fast,” he said. “At 5 o’clock in the morning, that’s when we realized we were in big trouble here.”
Tempo said the two roads leading to Gardner were either flooded or washed away, leaving year-round residents, seasonal workers and commuters stranded.
“Unfortunately, the only way out is the river,” Tempo said. “And it’s too high and too dangerous to run.”
Flooding has been reported in Carbon, Park, Sweet Grass, Steelwater and Yellowstone counties in Montana. Mild flooding, mostly in low-lying areas, was also reported in Sheridan County, Wyoming.
The Yellowstone River flows along Highway 89 in areas where the park’s visitors’ businesses are usually busy during the busy summer months.
The Park County Sheriff in Montana on Monday ordered a shelter 52.5 miles south of U.S. Highway 89 South when widespread flooding washed away bridges and roads and crossed Highway 89.
The National Guard on Monday assisted local first responders in evacuation and rescue east of Livingston.
Montana National Guard helicopters rescued 12 people near Roscoe and Cooke City. Guards continue search and rescue assistance near East Rose Bound Lake on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Livingston city officials thanked the volunteers and first responders who worked overnight to keep people safe.
“After attending the Incident Command meeting with the county this morning, we will continue to assess the damage and will update this page this morning with any voluntary efforts or immediate needs / concerns.” City of Livingston posted on Facebook.
On Monday, rescue operations were under way in Nai, Montana, with 68 people trapped at Woodbine Camp Ground, Montana. According to NWS, the campers were escorted to safety.
Yellowstone Park staff say falling rocks and high water levels could prevent staff from surveying the most affected areas for several days.