MAMMOTH - Thanks to $50 million from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Park Service now says it will have the northern loop back open to visitors in two weeks or less. The southern loop will open at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
What will not open within two weeks is the heavily damaged road from Gardiner to Mammoth. Also not opening quickly is the road from Roosevelt Junction to the northeast entrance. But that doesn’t mean the park is giving up on those segments of the road.
First, the old stagecoach road called the old Gardiner Road, which starts just inside the north gate, is being upgraded for use by emergency services, food supplies and administrative needs.
Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly says it’s important to get access restored to preserve the economies of gateway communities and park concessionaires.
“You’ve got people not only from across America but around the globe that have trips planned to Yellowstone," said Sholly. "Anytime you take full hotels of people and say, ‘your reservation’s canceled and you have to leave,’ you know, that’s not a good thing for your business model. And, it’s another reason why we have to come up with a safe way to get reopened as soon as possible.”
To meet that goal, Sholly promises to try to restore limited visitor access at Mammoth in the coming weeks but there is no timeline for that. At the same time, an effort is also underway to create a temporary route to Silver Gate and Cooke City at the Northeast Entrance. Both routes will be vital during the winter season because roads through the park are the only way in or out of those communities once snow blocks roads from the east.
The park service is re-purposing crews that are already in the park, working on a repair project south of Old Faithful. Now those crews will move north to restore access to Gardiner.