“Yellowstone National Park in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration has determined that the Old Gardiner Road (a limited-access road between Gardiner, Montana and Mammoth Hot Springs) will open to regular traffic no later than Nov. 1, 2022. The two-lane project will be extended up to two weeks to ensure over 5,000 feet of guardrail are properly installed for traffic safety.” ~Yellowstone National Park on October 4th, 2022
Well, gosh dang mother flipper.
That was my first censored reaction to getting an email from Yellowstone National Park informing me that the park’s North Entrance, located at Gardiner, Montana is not going to be opening on Oct. 15th as previously anticipated. Instead, the park road will open for public access no later than November 1st. The good news: “If the Old Gardiner Road is completed prior to Nov. 1, the park will open it to public travel sooner.”
While the news is a bit of a bummer for those hoping to access the park from the entrance station, the delay will only be a couple of weeks. For the amount of work the park needed to do to fix the Old Gardiner Road that connected Mammoth to Gardiner, being off in schedule by only a few weeks or less is not bad at all.
The Full Press Release
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – Yellowstone National Park in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration has determined that the Old Gardiner Road (a limited-access road between Gardiner, Montana and Mammoth Hot Springs) will open to regular traffic no later than Nov. 1, 2022. The two-lane project will be extended up to two weeks to ensure over 5,000 feet of guardrail are properly installed for traffic safety. Additionally, Yellowstone asked the Federal Highway Administration to build a new ¼-mile approach road into Mammoth Hot Springs after the project was underway to avoid a 12-15% steep grade on the original road. This new approach has required additional engineering and design to provide a safe road base to handle the 2,000-3,000 vehicles per day that enter the park from the North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana. Yellowstone has also asked the Federal Highway Administration to expand road widths in certain sections of the Old Gardiner Road to prevent restrictions.
“We have set incredibly aggressive time frames for these repairs and our contractors have worked at lightning speed to get this road safely reopened,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “It’s essential that we do not cut corners and we ensure the road meets required safety standards prior to opening. It’s also essential that we finish the job correctly, so we avoid any problems going into next year.”
The Old Gardiner Road was determined to be the best and only option to quickly reconnect Mammoth Hot Springs to Gardiner, Montana, after the floods in mid-June. Originally established as an 1880’s stagecoach route, the single-lane dirt road has been expanded to two lanes over its entire 4-mile length. The new approach road coming into Mammoth Hot Springs is under construction. Paving is expected to begin the week of Oct. 1 and nearly 1 mile of guardrail will be installed between Oct. 10 and Oct. 20. If the Old Gardiner Road is completed prior to Nov. 1, the park will open it to public travel sooner.
The Northeast Entrance Road (Tower Junction to the Northeast Entrance in Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana) is expected to open as planned on Oct. 15 to regular traffic.
Yellowstone is coordinating with Montana and Wyoming and a 7-mile section of road between Cooke City and the Pilot Creek Trailhead (known locally as the plug) will be plowed, if necessary, until the Old Gardiner Road is completed. This will ensure continued access to the communities of Cooke City/Silver Gate, Montana.