YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK — Beginning Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park will re-open to the public. Large portions of the rod were washed out by historic flooding on June 13 of this year.
What is opening Saturday is the road from Tower to the Northeast Entrance. That means if you enter the park at West Yellowstone, Grand Teton, or from Cody, you can drive through the park to Tower and then leave through the Northeast Entrance. Of course, the reverse is true as well, vehicles may enter in the northeast and leave through any of the southern entrances.
What drivers cannot do is enter from the North Entrance at Gardiner. That entrance is still closed for construction of a new road to replace large portions of the former North Entrance Road which were also washed out by the June flooding. The new road is due to open no later than the first of November.
MTN received an exclusive drive on the Tower to Northeast Road in advance of the opening. If you take the road, what you’ll experience will not be the same ride as you would have had before the June flooding:
“So you’ll see traffic at eight o’clock on Saturday morning traveling this road. That doesn’t mean the construction and the repairs are over. There is still a lot of work to do, still a lot of cleanup,” said Park Superintendent Cam Sholly.
There are two segments where you’ll notice that the most. If you’re coming from the west, the first will be along the Lamar River where flooding undercut the road. So far only one lane is repaired, so, traffic lights will let one direction through at a time.
The other section is near the trailhead to Trout Lake. That’s where a washout was particularly severe. It’s so bad, crews are still working to cut back the hillside.
National Park Service Project Manager Doug Madson said of the work to cut down the eroded hillside, “So, we have a much safer slope for the long term, for any traffic that’s going to be going on this road. It reduces the maintenance on the rock fall, all of those things.”
Work is still underway to fix that section, so the road will not be paved until about the 23rd of October, though engineers say it could be completed a little earlier. Travel is allowed but there are flaggers to control traffic through the construction zone, which is still a bit rough.
“Priority one was getting these sections repaired. Our next priority as far as flood recovery will be kind of building for resilience to prevent us from having another major issue with washed out roads and that kind of thing if we have a future event,” said Sholly.
On the drive to Silver Gate and Cooke City, you will see the construction work continuing. The Pebble Creek parking lot is filled with heavy equipment and a huge pile of soil removed from the big washout a little to the west. But most of the way, the road is just the same as before. That has Cooke City and Silver Gate business owners overjoyed.
“We now know that the winter is going to be exactly as it always was. All of our snowmobilers, and we’ve been contacted by many of them asking, but it’s going to be the same, They’re going to be able to use the east end of 212, that’s not plowed during the winter, to come through on the trail, or drive in the northeast gate if they want to bring their rigs into town,” said Kay Whittle of Antlers Lodge in Cooke City.
On the Gardiner to Mammoth route, A construction supervisor told MTN the work is going well. He predicted the road would be ready to open before the November first deadline.
Park officials estimate that the road work on the route from Gardiner to Mammoth and on the roads to the northeast entrance, have required nearly 300,000 tons of gravel and fill to make them passable.
Construction crews re-route Soda Butte Creek to get it back in its banks: