Friday, September 22, 2023


Yellowstone’s southern section reopens with some wait times, but minimal issues

Despite higher-than-normal midweek traffic at the three available gates into Yellowstone National Park, Wednesday’s reopening went smoothly.

The park had been closed for the previous 10 days due to massive flooding and road damage throughout the park, but primarily in Yellowstone’s northern section. The northern section is still closed, and entry gates at Gardiner, Montana, and Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana, aren’t expected to reopen this year.

Tourists entering through the park’s southern gate near Jackson, Wyoming, on Wednesday said there was a line of vehicles three miles long when the gate opened at 7:30 a.m. Traffic rapidly dispersed once through the gate, however, and officials said the tourist experience in the southern section of the park was “near normal.” Tourists entering through the west gate at West Yellowstone reported traffic backed up all the way from the gate to the edge of town, but said things went smoothly once the gates were opened.

Yellowstone is using an even/odd license plate system for the time being in order to limit the number of tourists and vehicles in the park. Park Superintendent Cam Sholly did hint earlier this week that the National Park Service and its online reservations vendor,, are developing other systems. He didn’t rule out the use of timed entry tickets or other traffic-limiting systems in the future.

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Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.


  1. After spending a season working in the town of West Yellowstone there needs to be some way to reduce the traffic in the park. Timed entry, maybe, Circulator buses with parking outside the park might well be part of the solution.


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