All entrances to Yellowstone National Park have been closed following “unprecedented” rainfall causing “extensive flooding, landslides and mudslides on roads,” the National Park Service said Monday. north entrance to remain closed for the remainder of the season.
Some roads have been washed out and others are covered in mud or rocks, according to the park service. Power was also cut in several parts of the park, officials said.
Park superintendent Cam Sholly described it as a “record flood”.
In an update late Tuesday, the National Park Service said the northern portion of the park “will likely remain closed for a substantial amount of time due to severely damaged and impacted infrastructure.”
The flood was triggered by up to 3 inches of rain amid near-record temperatures that melted 5 inches of high-altitude snow over the weekend, county sheriff’s office officials said Tuesday. Park of Montana at a press conference. The rivers are currently at maximum levels and are expected to recede in the coming days.
With 12 inches of snow remaining, Yellowstone “could have another flood” in the next four to five days, Sholly told reporters Tuesday night.
All frontcountry visitors have left the park, although there are still people in the backcountry they are working to get out, park officials said Tuesday.
Between 15,000 and 20,000 visitors were in the park before the floods began. Several thousand visitors stranded in Gardiner have been evacuated, officials said.
Park officials likely won’t be able to assess all the damage to get an idea of a reopening timeline until next week when conditions are less dangerous, Sholly said.
The most significant damage appears to be in the northern part of the park, particularly between Gardiner, Montana, and Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming, Sholly said.
The park service warned that many roads could be closed “for an extended period”. Hundreds of bridges will also need to be assessed, Sholly said.
The road between Gardiner and Cooke City, Montana, on the park’s northern edge, will likely be closed for the rest of the season, around late October, Sholly said.
Park officials are studying how soon they can reopen the southern part of the park to visitors.
The sprawling national park spans 2,219,789 acres, mostly in Wyoming but also in neighboring Montana and Idaho. Summer is the park’s busiest tourist season.
The park closed for nearly two months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Park officials believe this is the first time Yellowstone has closed due to flooding.
ABC News’ Max Golembo, Dan Peck and Aliyah Thomas contributed to this report.