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Yellowstone National Park partially reopens after historic flooding

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Yellowstone National Park partially reopens after historic flooding
Image of a road map of Yellowstone National Park indicating points of interest, road closures, and flood damage impacts. Photo courtesy of National Parks Service/UPI

June 22 (UPI) -- Iconic Yellowstone National Park reopened partially on Wednesday morning after record flooding forced officials to close it to tourists.

Infrastructure throughout the park was damaged because of the flooding. On June 12, heavy rain and snowmelt caused "extremely hazardous" conditions throughout the 3,472-square-mile park, which spreads across parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

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"Yellowstone National Park will begin allowing visitors to access the south loop of the park," a statement from the park said.

"As part of reopening planning, park staff has engaged over 1,000 business owners, park partners, commercial operators and residents in surrounding gateway communities to determine how to manage summer visitation while the north loop remains closed due to flood damage."

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Yellowstone's Superintendent Cam Sholly said a managed entry system was established at the south loop. To ensure the park doesn't become overwhelmed with visitors, entrance will be allowed based on the last numerical digit on license plates, with those with odd-numbered digits entering on odd-numbered days of the month and those with even-numbered digits entering on even-numbered days of the month.

"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," Sholly said. "As we go through the reopening process, we will monitor the system's effectiveness and work together to make adjustments that may be necessary.

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"We will also reopen new sections of the park as repairs continue to be made. It is critical for visitors to stay informed about this interim system as we evaluate its effectiveness."

RELATED Satellite photos show extent of Yellowstone flooding, damage

In 2021, the months of May, June, July, August and September were the busiest for Yellowstone on record as U.S. residents emerged from coronavirus restrictions. Last July saw record attendance with more than 1 million visiting the park, the first time tourist stops topped that mark for one month in history.

RELATED Yellowstone hit with rare 4.2-magnitude earthquake

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