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Yellowstone plans to reopen its north loop and do away with a limited capacity system

By Christina Maxouris, CNN

Yellowstone National Park’s north loop will reopen to all visitors Saturday, nearly three weeks after epic floods swallowed roads and bridges, caused mudslides and prompted officials to shutter all of the park’s entrances.

“We have attempted to balance major recovery efforts while reopening as much of the park as possible,” Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement.

The park — which spans parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming — and nearby towns were inundated by unprecedented rainfall and flooding earlier this month that led to dangerous conditions, officials previously said. The heavy rain, coupled with rapid snowmelt that led to flooding along the Yellowstone River, was a 1 in 500-year event, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The park reopened its south loop — accessed through the East, West and South entrances — last week based on an alternate license plate system that was aimed at slowing down visitor traffic, officials said.

In a news release on Thursday, the National Park Service announced Yellowstone will be suspending the system starting Saturday.

“The interim system worked very effectively at moderating traffic within the park, however, with the opening of the north loop and 93% of the road system open, (the alternating license plate system) will be suspended effective July 2,” the release said. “Park staff will continue monitoring visitor use data, traffic counts, and the condition of infrastructure over the upcoming months to ensure visitor usage is not overwhelming capacity.”

The system may be put back in place if needed, the release added.

Park service officials added that the North Entrance Road and Northeast Entrance Road remain closed to vehicle traffic while repairs continue.

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CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.

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