Yellowstone National Park announced on Monday it will execute four major road improvement projects in 2023, totaling $216 million to improve safety and access on park roads.
The park said in a press release that the four projects will cause delays along the park’s southern and northern road corridors, and it is important for visitors to plan accordingly. Expected delays are detailed in the project details below.
The release said addressing a maintenance backlog is part of the National Park Service’s core mission to preserve national parks and world-class visitor experiences. Yellowstone has an estimated $1 billion in deferred maintenance and repairs.
The park also has an estimated $54 million for annual routine maintenance requirements.
The four road improvement projects include:
Lewis River Bridge
- Location: Nearly 1- miles north of the South Entrance on the South Entrance Road
- Access: Beginning summer 2023 until fall 2024, expect up to 20-minute delays while roads are open to vehicles (May-Oct.31). Nearby pullouts and the trail to Lewis River Falls will be closed during construction.
- Improvements: The project includes the removal and replacement of the Lewis River Bridge. The new bridge will be constructed immediately downstream. The project includes additional parking and viewing opportunities. The project costs $31 million and is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund. [nps.gov]
Old Faithful to West Thumb
- Location: Grand Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb
- Access: From summer 2023 until fall 2023, expect up to 30-minute delays along this road segment while roads are open to vehicles.
- Improvements: This project includes the rehabilitation of 22 miles of the Grand Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb, one of the most heavily traveled road corridors in the park. Construction will include repaving the full 30-foot-wide roadway segment, which was last repaved in 1987 and has deteriorated due to heavy usage and winter weather conditions. Additionally, guardrails, culverts, and other drainage structures will be replaced to enhance visitor safety. This project costs $43 million and is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund. [nps.gov]
Yellowstone River Bridge
- Location: Near Tower Junction along the Northeast Entrance Road
- Access: Beginning summer 2023 until fall 2026, expect occasional and short traffic delays. The Northeast Entrance Road is open year-round to vehicles. Hiking trails in the area may temporarily close during the duration of the project. Visit the Backcountry Situation Report [nps.gov] for details.
- Improvements: This project includes the replacement of the structurally deficient Yellowstone River Bridge built in 1963. A new 1,285-foot-long, 175-foot-high steel girder bridge upstream will replace the existing 604-foot-long bridge to preserve year-round access to/from the Northeast Entrance and communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana. New pullouts, paved parking areas, and a dedicated route across the new bridge will increase access to trails, fishing, and viewpoints. The Yellowstone River Picnic Area will be enlarged to accommodate increased visitor use. This project costs $118 million and is funded through the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund. [nps.gov]
Northeast Entrance Road (Flood recovery)
- Location: East of Tower Junction between Lamar Canyon and the Northeast Entrance
- Access: Beginning early summer 2023 until fall 2023, expect up to 30-minute delays. The Northeast Entrance Road is open year-round to wheeled vehicles. Night work will occur, without overnight closures.
- Improvements: This project includes completing work to address flood-damaged areas of the road between Lamar Canyon and the Northeast Entrance. Construction will include the completion of a two-lane realignment in Lamar Canyon, paving a second lift north of the Trout Lake Trailhead, stabilization of streambanks adjacent to the road, and work in the Pebble Creek Campground and Warm Creek Picnic Area. Additionally, some guardrails, culverts, and other drainage structures will be replaced to enhance visitor safety. This project costs $25 million and is funded through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads Fund.
You can stay informed about road conditions at Yellowstone's Park Roads web page.