Billings, Mont. (AP) – Yellowstone National Park is set to partially reopen Wednesday at 8 a.m. after catastrophic flooding destroyed bridges and roads and displaced thousands of tourists.
The Park Service announced Saturday that visitors will be allowed again on the park’s southern loop under a temporary license plate system designed to manage crowds: those with even-numbered plates and engine groups will be allowed on even days, and those with odd-numbered ones. or vanity plates on odd numbered days.
Commercial tours and visitors with proof of overnight reservations in hotels, campsites or in the hinterland are allowed, regardless of their license plate.
Visitors flocked to Yellowstone during the 150th anniversary celebrations. The south loop provides access to Old Faithful, the rainbow-colored Grand Prismatic Spring, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its majestic waterfall. It is accessible through the southern, eastern, and western entrances of the park.
“It’s impossible to reopen just one loop in the summer without implementing some sort of system to manage visitation,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a press release. “Thank you to our gateway partners and others for helping us work out an acceptable workaround for the southern loop as we continue our efforts to reopen the northern loop.”
The northern loop is expected to remain closed until summer, if not longer. Officials say it could take years and cost more than $1 billion to repair damage to the environmentally sensitive landscape.
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