Historic Yellowstone road may be closed forever after devastating floods

Extensive flooding at Yellowstone National Park in June 2022
(Image credit: National Park Serice)

Yellowstone's historic Canyon Road may be permanently closed following June's torrential floods, according to park superintendent Cam Sholly.

The floods, caused by sudden snowmelt resulting from a sudden spike in temperatures combined with heavy rainfall, caused tremendous damage to the National Park's infrastructure. The north and northeast entrances remain closed to vehicles, and it's estimated that the damage could cost over $1 billion to repair.

CBS News was given access to the northern entrance, where wastewater facilities were overwhelmed, dozens of bridges destroyed, trees uprooted, and chunks of road washed away. Sholly told reporters that repairing Highway 89, which is almost 150 years old, could take as long as five years – assuming it's even possible.

The floodwaters caused such severe erosion, there are fears that the road may collapse further. "I'd like to see this canyon restored. Ultimately, you've got to be cognizant of what the future threats could be," said Sholly.

For now, the main priority is reconnecting nearby settlements so residents' lives can get back to normal, and a narrow cycle lane has been converted into a temporary two-lane road to handle essential vehicles.

Earlier this week, the National Park Service released a video showing the full force of the floodwater as it raged through Yellowstone, which you can see below.

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"Look, there's no question climate change is occurring," said Sholly. "We've got a long way to go to figure out what steps are necessary to ensure that we're adapting properly."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.