Five days after a rock slide closed the road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Tower Junction in Yellowstone National Park, crews managed to reopen the route Wednesday afternoon.
Park officials said the road reopened at 3 p.m. local time after park geologists and road maintenance crews, along with representatives of the Federal Highway Administration, examined the slide area just east of Blacktail Plateau Drive.
The rock slide came down sometime early Saturday and closed the section of the park's Grand Loop Road about eight miles east of Mammoth Hot Springs near Blacktail Plateau Drive. While in summer motorists coming up from the Canyon area can access the Lamar Valley, deep snow on Dunraven Pass currently is preventing traffic between Tower Junction and Canyon Village.
A release issued Wednesday afternoon said park managers will "aggressively" monitor the slide area during the coming weeks, especially during precipitation events, to assess the risk of any more slides.
"Internationally-recognized falling rock warning signs and no-stopping signs have been installed along a 4/10th-mile stretch through the slide area as a precaution for visitors as the road has historically been a site for occasional bear jams," the release added.
Progress is also being made to clear the road between Tower Junction and Canyon Village over Dunraven Pass, the release said. Crews and snow plowing equipment were pulled off the spring clearing of the Beartooth Highway over Memorial Day weekend to focus on Dunraven pass, and are expecting to have the route opened -- weather and avalanche conditions permitting -- by this weekend.
Once Dunraven is cleared, crews and equipment will return to US-212 to resume clearing operations on Beartooth Pass, which links the park’s Northeast Entrance with the community of Red Lodge, Montana. The highway is currently scheduled to open the weekend of June 10.
Visitors can still travel into the Northeast Entrance of the park from Cody, Wyoming, by taking WY-120 to US-296 to US-212 through Cooke City, Montana.
The North, West, and South entrances to Yellowstone all are open, yet are subject to last-minute, temporary closures due to weather. Unstable snow conditions and the threat of snow slides continue to limit travel on the East Entrance road through Sylvan Pass to between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m.
Information on park road conditions is available 24 hours a day by calling the park’s road information hotline at 307-344-2117.