Roadwork will slow your travels through Yellowstone National Park this summer, with various bridge and pavement widening projects on tap in the park.
Yellowstone officials say the work will lead to "some short, daily traffic delays" along sections of the Grand Loop Road. But they add that the work should not cause visitors to have to make changes to their scheduled travel plans.
The most significant of the upgrades is the start of the first phase of an improvement project on the 16-mile stretch of road between Norris Geyser Basin and the Golden Gate area in Swan Lake Flats, just south of Mammoth Hot Springs. This project involves improving and widening the current 18-22-foot-wide road to the Federal Highways standard of 30 feet. Included in the construction will be the addition of improved pullouts, widened shoulders, safer parking areas, reconstruction of a bridge over the Gardner River and re-routing of portions of the blacktop around critical thermal areas. The work will be the first significant upgrade the road has received since it was first constructed in the 1920s, and will be completed in three phases over the next few years.
Visitors should expect traffic delays of up to 30 minutes in construction areas. Nightly closures will be in effect Sunday through Thursday nights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. beginning Sunday, June 1, on a 5.4-mile section of road between the entrance to the Norris Campground and the Moose Exhibit turnaround just south of the Indian Creek Campground. The campground will not be affected by the closure. The road will not be closed on Friday and Saturday nights, although this can change with 14-day advance notice. In the fall, this section of road will close temporarily to all traffic from 11 p.m. Sept. 14, to 7 a.m. Sept. 30.
Work will also begin in June to replace the historic, but deteriorating 72-year-old Isa Lake Bridge, which is on the road between Old Faithful and West Thumb Junction. This project also includes improvements to the existing parking area and pullouts and the existing Continental Divide interpretive kiosk. The new bridge design retains many of the historic characteristics of its predecessor, while meeting modern safety and weight load rating requirements. During reconstruction this summer, delays of up to 30 minutes should be expected. The bridge will be fully closed at 6 a.m. Sept. 2 until 7 a.m. Nov. 15, with completion of the work planned for fall 2015.
There will be no daytime traffic delays or overnight road closures on the Independence Day holiday weekend between 5 p.m. Thursday, July 3, and 7 a.m. Monday, July 7, and no Labor Day traffic delays or closures between 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, and 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2.
Details on these projects and updated Yellowstone road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117 or by visiting this site.