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Southern loop of Yellowstone scheduled to reopen Wednesday

Yellowstone East Entrance sign NPS:Jacob W. Frank
NPS/Jacob W. Frank

WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mon. (KIFI) - Excitement is starting to build as visitors in West Yellowstone anticipate the reopening of Yellowstone's South Loop. Officials will start allowing car in at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Though the North Loop and Gardiner entrance will remain closed until Further notice, victors will have access to the park though West Yellowstone, Cody, and Jackson.

Nicole Vedder and her family are looking forward to getting their Father's Day plans back on track.

"We're very excited," she says. "We planned this almost a year in advance, so we were sorry to hear about the closings, but excited that nobody was hurt and that she's going to be able to be reopened and people can come and visit."

Vedder says as a family they're hoping to make some unique memories they can't get at their Florida home. She goes on to say, "I think we really just want to see a lot of the the animals that are roaming around. Hopefully, we're getting some elk and buffalo. Mammoth Cave, I think, is one, you know, more than I do. Honey, what we're seeing are the Old Faithful."

But park officials will regulate who can and can't get into the park starting Wednesday. Cars with an even number as the last number of their license plates, including 0, can get in on even numbered days. The same is true for odd numbered plates and days.

Vedder tell us she is a little nervous about the system. She says, "I'm hoping that this is not their first rodeo and they've done it before. So we'll see. But we've got a couple of days, so I'm sure at one point or another we're going to make it in and we'll be able to see all of the great sights that she's got to offer."

In a press release, park officials explain the interim system was enacted to try and "balance the demand for visitor access, park resource protection and economic interests of the communities"

Some exceptions to the plan are:

  • Current commercial use operators with active commercial use permits will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number. This includes commercial tours and stock groups.
  • Visitors with proof of overnight reservations in the park will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number. This includes hotels, campgrounds, and backcountry reservations.
  • Commercial motorcoaches will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number.
  • Motorcycle groups may enter on even dates only.
  • Essential services like mail and deliver, employees and contractors may enter regardless of license plate number.

Still, ther are some who will miss out on much of the scenery Yellowstone has to offer, like Johanna Worley. She says they hoped to see the park but understand the circumstances behind the closure.

"You know, we had made reservations just at Rainbow Point Campground for a couple of days thinking, you know, we would stay there and try to get into the park, but obviously that's not going to happen. So here we are just walking in and looking at the entrance."

Though Worley says her husband and herself do have fond memories from past visits, she goes on to say, "It's one of the most remarkable places on earth we've been to, just because of the geysers and just the the ground bubbling and doing all that amazing stuff that where we live doesn't do that."

Still, Worley is excited about seeing Salmon before returning home to the upper Peninsula of Michigan.

As for the North Loop, Park Superintendant Cam Sholly said "My thanks to our gateway partners and others for helping us work out an acceptable temporary solution for the south loop while we continue our efforts to reopen the north loop. As we go through the reopening process, we will monitor the system’s effectiveness and work together to make adjustments that may be necessary. We will also reopen new sections of the park as repairs continue to be made."

You can find details on any future adjustments or opening here.

Article Topic Follows: Local News
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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.

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