Much of Yellowstone National Park will be closed until winter after record flooding
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If you were one of those who was thinking of taking a short hike in Yellowstone National Park during the summer, there is a strong possibility that you will have to change your plans. Earlier this week the popular natural attraction was battered by torrential rain, destroying a large swath of land that is now completely off-limits to tourists.
The catastrophic event dealt another blow to America’s oldest and most beloved national park just days after the start of the long-awaited – and more emotional – 2022 summer season on its milestone 150e birthday. While some areas have suffered minor damage and access, even limited, will be allowed again soon, others will likely remain closed until winter.
The recent floods are a millennial event
Yellowstone National Park has endured four days of heavy and endless rain which, coupled with the still lingering snowmelt from last winter, resulted in record flooding and mudslides. It wasn’t just any flood either: park officials have declared the incident constitutes a “millennial event”.
According to Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly, one of the highest cubic feet per second (CFS) ratings for the Yellowstone River was 31,000, since the 1990s. which flooded much of the park’s scenic trails. In reality, the entire section of the northern loop has been badly damaged.
More importantly, Mr Sholly offered updates on the status of those nearby amid the deluge. Only 12 campers had remained in the backcountry of the park during the most critical days, and they are all safe. The Superintendent also submits that, with the exception of one episode of fatal cardiac arrest, no other park visitors were injured or killed.
He reiterated that while these events should, in theory, be rare occurrences, they “seem to be happening more and more frequently.” The Yellowstone flood is not the only disaster affecting a major tourist destination this year: the Caribbean is expected to face yet another “above average” hurricane season in 2022.
What is the exact extent of the damage?
Around Yellowstone, flooding on Highway 89 across the border in Montana was so severe it cut off access to the town of Gardiner. As park officials said, that road has now been restored, but others, like the vital road from Gardiner to Cooke City, Montana, “will likely remain closed for the remainder of the season.”
Unfortunately, it could take months until all flood residue is removed, as major roads were cut off. Park County, Montana, Commissioner Bill Berg himself said his office was unable to provide law enforcement or even public health services. Even “pretty basic” tasks are now impossible to complete, as they “can’t go out to pick up trash”.
The state of the roads being particularly dangerous, the risk of new landslides cannot be excluded and limited emergency servicestourists may decide to skip Yellowstone altogether this summer — even after parts of the park reopen, Superintendent Sholly revealed at a June 14 news conference.
Sections of Yellowstone will reopen soon, but the North Loop will remain closed for months
Sholly hopes the less damaged southern half of Yellowstone can quickly arrive in time for tourist season. Specifically, the West, South and East entrances. This loop includes major sites, such as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Old Faithful Geyser, Hayden Valley and the Yellowstone Lake area, and they can be accessible again within a week.
The North Loop is another story. It will likely remain closed for most of the year, and through next winter, including most backcountry hiking routes. The northern section features a historic fort, picturesque views of the canyons from above, and it’s also the locals’ favorite route for grizzly bear viewing.
If you are planning to drive to a national park in the USA this summer and are wondering where to go after the skyrocketing gas prices, be sure to use this tool to calculate exactly how much your road trip will cost. For more updates on Yellowstone National Park and reopening dates, please visit their official site.
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