The issue: a landslide about eight miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs, just east of the entrance to Blacktail Plateau Drive, forced a road closure yesterday morning (as shown above). That rockslide has been cleared to the point where emergency vehicles could pass, but the potential of more rockslides is causing Park officials to close down the road until geo-technical consultants can do a safety check on several car-sized boulders perched atop unstable material at the base of the slope immediately adjacent to the roadway.
This section of road will remain closed for several days.
The closure affects access to the Park from the Northeast Entrance and Cooke City: because this link of road was the only stretch connecting the Lamar Valley with the rest of the Park (remember, the Dunraven Pass is closed), access is impossible. Cooke City residents still have access to Cody via the Chief Joseph Highway. It also makes access from Cody difficult, to say the least: you’ll either need to drive north via Billings to the North Entrance or all the way south to Riverton, Grand Teton National Park and the South Entrance.
In the meantime, Park officials are working to open access from Cooke City by an alternate route: plowing the Dunraven Pass, which would allow the Tower Junction-Canyon Village section of road to open. Crews and equipment are being pulled off spring clearing of the Beartooth Highway and will work overtime on plowing and road cleanup. Weather and avalanche conditions on the pass permitting, this road could open to travel by next weekend.
In addition, the Blacktail Plateau Drive — a one-lane gravel seasonal scenic route running parallel to the section of road closed by Saturday’s rock slide — is being prepped for use by emergency vehicles and concessionaire vehicles should the main road be closed. This would allow the resupply of the Yellowstone General Store at Tower Fall and the shipment of goods to allow the opening of Roosevelt Lodge on schedule on Friday, June 10.
All of this is complicated by the weather: Yellowstone National Park remains under a Winter Weather Advisory until Monday morning, with falling and accumulating snow reported Sunday across most of the park. Visitors need to be prepared for temporary road closures due to snow and ice.
Image by Dan Hottle, courtesy of the National Park Service.
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