Rites of Spring: Road Slump in Yellowstone National Park Closes Section of Grand Loop Road

A section of Yellowstone's Grand Loop Road near Canyon has been closed by a slump in the road surface that led to a broken waterline. NPS photo by Jim Peaco.

Springtime in the Rockies is never a particularly easy time. In Yellowstone National Park, the freeze-thaw cycle at this time of year plays havoc with the roads, as evidenced by the slumping of a short section of the Grand Loop Road near Canyon.

The section failed Monday afternoon when thawing caused some subsidence that, in turn, led to the breaking of a water main that serves Canyon Village. The collapse is about a mile south of Canyon Junction, between the road to the Canyon Corrals and south end of the North Rim Drive.

This stretch of road has been an ongoing problem for the park. Several repair jobs in recent years have left the road surface rough and uneven. When the water main broke Monday, the gushing water further undercut the roadbed.

This morning park maintenance crews were at work on the site, excavating an area two lanes wide, 80 feet long, and 8 feet deep to determine how much damage was done to the roadbed and waterline.

Until the road can be fixed -- park officials say the road should be reopened Thursday -- the Grand Loop Road is temporarily closed from south of Canyon Junction to Alum Creek, at the north end of Hayden Valley. Visitors can still travel to Canyon by way of Norris Junction.

Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling (307) 344-2117.