Visitors traveling to the park in the coming weeks must stay informed about the new interim visitor entry system
At 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 22, Yellowstone National Park will begin allowing visitors to access the south loop of the park. The south loop is accessed from the East (Cody), West (West Yellowstone), and South (Grand Teton/Jackson) entrances. Accessible areas include Madison, Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village, Canyon Village, and Norris. 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.
- Related: Northern Portion of Yellowstone National Park Likely to Remain Closed for “Substantial Length of Time” Due to Severely Damaged Infrastructure: Limited Opening Possible Next Week
To balance the demand for visitor access, park resource protection, and the economic interests of the communities, the park will institute an interim visitor access plan. The interim plan, referred to as the Alternating License Plate System (ALPS), was suggested as a solution by gateway communities during major public engagement with the park this past week. Park managers and partners have agreed this system is the best interim solution to ensuring the south loop does not become overwhelmed by visitors. The National Park Service will actively monitor the license plate system and is concurrently building a new reservation system that will be ready for implementation if needed.
Alternating License Plate System (ALPS)
- Public vehicle entry will be allowed based on whether the last numerical digit on a license plate is odd or even.
- Entrance will be granted based on odd/even days on the calendar.
- Odd-numbered last digits on license plates can enter on odd days of the month.
- Even-numbered last digits (including zero) on license plates can enter on even days of the month.
- Personalized plates (all letters, for example, “YLWSTNE”) will fall into the “odd” category for entrance purposes.
- Plates with a mix of letters and numbers that end with a letter (for example “YELL4EVR”) will still use the last numerical digit on the plate to determine entrance 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.
- Current commercial use operators with active commercial use permits will be permitted to enter regardless of the 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 the license plate number. This includes hotels, campgrounds, and backcountry reservations.
- Commercial motorcoaches will be permitted to enter regardless of the license plate number.
- Motorcycle groups may enter on even dates only.
- For essential services like mail and delivery, employees and contractors may enter regardless of the license plate number.
The interim license plate system will ensure that visitors have access to the park during this period of high demand. Park managers and staff will monitor the license plate system and impacts on resources, infrastructure, operations, and staffing, and may adjust or implement a reservation or timed entry system, if necessary, after three to four weeks.
“Less than six days ago, Yellowstone National Park was hit with devastating floods. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our teams and partners, we are prepared to reopen the south loop of Yellowstone. It is impossible to reopen only one loop in the summer without implementing some type of system to manage visitation. 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. As we go through the reopening process, we will monitor the system’s effectiveness and work together to make adjustments that may be necessary. 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. They should plan ahead and be patient with us as we are still managing significant recovery while moving into this operational phase.”
– Superintendent Cam Sholly
OPEN in the south loop as of June 22
- Backcountry areas accessible from roads open to the public will be available/restricted for day use only.
- Overnight use from trailheads in the south will open on July 1.
- Visit Camp in Backcountry for details.
- 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
CLOSED until further notice in the south loop
- Canyon Village Lodges and Cabins
- Canyon, Madison, Norris and Lewis Lake campgrounds
- Fishing Bridge Visitor Center and Trailside Museum
Visit Operating Hours and Seasons for details about what is OPEN and CLOSED throughout the park. Yellowstone staff are working to determine what other potential sections of the park may be reopened prior to roads closing on Nov. 1. Decisions will depend on the extent of damage and the ability of park managers to safely open additional sections as the year progresses. Park managers are evaluating plans to reopen roads connecting Canyon Village, Tower Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Norris; however, this will not happen initially. The park is also working to reconnect Mammoth Hot Springs to Gardiner and Cooke City/Silver Gate as soon as possible with temporary solutions, while the long-term reconstruction is planned. Visitors should continue to monitor the park website and social media for additional updates.