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Yellowstone to start allowing visitors Wednesday with license plate-based entry system

Yellowstone Flooding Photo Gallery
Posted at 7:40 PM, Jun 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-19 21:50:33-04

YELLOWSTONE, Wyoming — Yellowstone National Park will start allowing visitors to enter starting Wednesday.

The park announced Saturday that the south loop of Yellowstone will open Wednesday (June 22) at 8 a.m. This includes three entrances: Cody, Wyoming from the east, West Yellowstone, Montana from the west, and from the south through Grand Teton National Park.

The north loop, which sustained more significant damage in the floods earlier this week, will remain closed, as will the north and northeast entrances.

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Map showing areas of Yellowstone that will be open starting Wednesday, June 22.

Areas that will be accessible will include Madison, Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village, Canyon Village and Norris.

To make sure the southern portion doesn't get overwhelmed by visitors, the park will implement a temporary access plan based on visitors' license plates. If the last number on the plate is odd, that vehicle can enter the park on odd days of the month. If the last number of the plate is even (including 0), that vehicle will be allowed in on even days.

For license plates that have a mix of numbers and letters but end with a letter, the last numerical digit on the plate will be the determiner. Plates with all letters, such as personalized plates, will be considered part of the "odd" category and will be let in on odd days.

"Entrance station staff will turn away vehicles attempting to enter the park when the odd/even numerical digits do not correspond to the odd/even calendar date for entrance," Saturday's announcement read.

This plan was decided after park officials heard from more than 1,000 parties with connections to the park, including business owners, partners, commercial operators, and nearby residents.

The National Park Service said it is also working on a new reservation system. After 3-4 weeks, the park may implement this system or adjust the staggered entry plan.

There will be some exceptions to the license plate system, the park said:

  • Current commercial use operators with active commercial use permits will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number. This includes commercial tours and stock groups.
  • Visitors with proof of overnight reservations in the park will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number. This includes hotels, campgrounds, and backcountry reservations.
  • Commercial motorcoaches will be permitted to enter regardless of license plate number.
  • Motorcycle groups may enter on even dates only.
  • Essential services like mail and deliver, employees and contractors may enter regardless of license plate number.

Here is more specific information about which areas in the south loop will be open, according to the park's website:

  • Backcountry areas accessible from roads open to the public will be available/restricted for day use only.
  • Old Faithful, West Thumb, Grant Village, Bridge Bay, Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Norris visitor services
  • West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center
  • Canyon Village Visitor Education Center
  • Overnight use from trailheads in the south will open July 1.
  • Visit Camp in Backcountry [nps.gov] for details.  

The following areas on the south loop will be closed until further notice:

  • Canyon Village Lodges & Cabins
  • Canyon, Madison, Norris and Lewis Lake campgrounds
  • Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and Trailside Museum

The park urges the public to check its website and social media for additional updates when planning their visit.